Well, it’s Cross Nationals week. All day we’re getting text updates on the new age-bracket national champs, and here in the States the elite race is coming Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin.
It is more or less accepted, I think, that cyclocross has arrived with the masses this season. A ramping popularity seems finally to have reached critical mass.
Historically a way for road racers to keep fit in the off-season, cyclocross has long since become a discipline and focus unto itself, and, at least in this country, it has a unique culture that thumbs its nose at the more, shall we say, rigid culture of road racing.
Cross is inclusive. It’s fun. It has cow bells and heckling. It has beer and dollar primes and donut hand ups. There is a sense, among most racers, that they’re in it together, slogging through the mud, sliding out in off-camber turns, tromping through the sand or dancing through the barriers. Cross invites you to race for survival, if not the podium.
Stars like Katie Compton, Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Jonathan Page, and Kaitlin Antoneau have shown cross’s more charming side, and the more down-to-earth atmosphere at events brings fans closer to the stars. Not that you always want to get closer to someone covered in mud and gasping for breath.
This week’s Group Ride asks the question: Are you watching cyclocross? Are you following it some other way? Does this thing have legs? Or is this just another bandwagon for cycling nuts to jump on?
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International