It wasn’t that long ago that all ‘cross racers were also roadies or mountain bikers first and cyclocrossers second. As the sport has slowly grown, however, a new breed of athlete, the cyclocross specific breed, has slowly begun to appear in the wild. These athletes, and I’m one of them, forgo racing seriously when the weather is warm and pleasant in the summer and instead focus all of their attention to racing with somewhat frozen toes and muddy bikes all fall long. We live for grubby beer hand ups, clambering up unrideable inclines (turns out you can do that in the summer too at the RedBull 400), and the satisfaction that once the race starts it’ll all be over in just an hours time.
200 miles, 11 hours, and a lot of suffering. Not exactly what you’d expect an hour CX specialist to be doing, right? But here I am, just a couple weeks out from the race, and about as ready as I’ll ever be for the Dirty Kanza. I have no idea how my body will respond to a ride that long, but fortunately I’d had the chance to build up a bike and pick equipment that I think will give me the best chance of surviving these beastly ride.
n so many ways, it’s the perfect learning environment. There is no external pressure to perform but, at the same time, I’m repeatedly thrown into situations that challenge my entire skill set. Sometimes that means blowing up, sometimes is means crashing, but just as often it allows me to redefine my technical, tactical, and physical limits. With that in mind, my last three races were a success; in each race I felt I was getting more comfortable on my Steeple-X, more confident, and able to race in a faster group than the race prior.
Of course, we often get dry and fast bunch races in North America, but they certainly don’t turn into the The difference is that, while in North America there are a handful of riders that are within a few percentage points of each other when it comes to bike handling and power, in a European World Cup almost the entire field can be found within that small range. That means that on a fast course like Hoogerheide, no one can drop anyone else, splits happen because of crashes, and we see the tactical battle that unfolded on Sunday.
Rapencross in Lokeren. It was up there with the hardest courses I’ve raced: filthy muddy, filled with tricky technical bits, and had a field of pretty top notch competitors to boot. And it wasn’t even a UCI race. Technically it’s classified as a Belgian ‘B’ race which basically means it’s the highest level of amateur racing in the country. Not to diminish all the great UCI racing we have in North America, but in Belgian the amateur racing is on par with anything that we’d see in all but the best produced C1 races on our side of the ocean.