By Jeffrey Stern
The leaves are changing, coffee shops start adding funky flavors (for no good reason) to the already amazing organic fair trade colombian coffee and the lost layers, arm warmers and gloves that hibernated deep in your closet for the past few months need digging out. You can try holding onto summer for as long as you want, but the morning temperature and frost on your lawn don’t lie. Fall is here.
What does that mean for many cyclists across the world? It means that cross is here, too.
You know, cyclocross – the sport where beer chugging is encouraged and dollar bill tornados can be seen every weekend through the New Year from New York to Chicago, Los Angeles to Portland and everywhere in between.
The best part of ‘cross, as it’s affectionately called by its aficionados, is the jovial spirit it elicits among those both in and out of the “serious” ‘cross crowd. Even complete cycling virgins can stumble across a weekend cyclocross race at their local waterfront park and be mesmerized by the pure silliness. A sand pit you have to ride your bike through? Multiple times? Stairs and other manmade obstacles? Multiple times, too?! The more the merrier motto rings true when it comes to ‘cross.
It’s the sport for everyone; woman, man, child, no matter your age, size, style or cycling abilities there is a spot for you on a start line, likely even two. Some super-crazy CXers race up four times in one weekend! Cyclocross embodies the essence of the proper competitive spirit. Even the best pros admit an addiction to the sport, through the sheer pain and ridiculousness of the various course designs. No two races are ever the same, except for the fact that they are outrageously entertaining and fun; like clockwork, every time.
The best part of cycling’s fall and winter off-season? There is no wrong way to race cyclocross. Just by showing up you can feel the energy as there is always a race going on, music pumping from the speakers and beer a-flowing from the tent. Sunrise to sunset, east to west coast without fail.
Now that you’re in the know, without a doubt the best case for the summer, endless day blues is to show up to a cyclocross weekend – yes, that’s right, people lover their ‘cross so much that they don’t just race on one day, but often times two even three days straight in the same course.
But it’s ‘cross, so you should also know they change up the course to keep things funky and fresh and that’s why we all love it so much. Never has something so funky felt so right.
Show up, be yourself, race your heart out, crash, get up again, have a few beers, ring a cowbell (in whatever order you want) and try to wipe that grin off your face after getting home. That will be the hardest thing you do all weekend, I promise.