Last year, I found out about cyclocross. It defies description, but is basically a race in which a group of typically road-cyclists get together to abuse themselves on grass, mud, gravel, loose rocks, sand, hills, obstacles, stairs, etc., on somewhat modified road bikes. They love mud. They love pain. I don’t know why.
I found out about cyclocross because I had been frequenting the local dirt-oval stock car track and noticed a “cyclocross” event coming up at the end of summer. I figured it was Motocross without the “moto”, so I brought a friend to check it out. Turns out, it was a night time race around part of the dirt stock-car track, around back in the grass, up some stone steps, across the bottom of the grandstands, UP THE GRANDSTANDS, and back out to the track. This was crazy! This was awesome! I wanted in!
My colleague’s photos: Darkcross.
Turns out they had an Open race for non-racers coming up in September in which you didn’t need any prior experience or a race license to participate. In fact, if you had a race license, you couldn’t participate. Well I decided to commute with my mountain bike and ride home via the grass on the side of the paved trails, and as much dirt as I could find on my way home. I did one “training session” with my friend at the park where we threw a couple stakes in the ground and tried to ride zig-zag around them a few times. We were completely wiped after about 5 minutes, so we just rode around for an hour and went home.
The race itself was pretty cool and somewhat tame compared to what I now know as cyclocross races. It was mostly grass, some gravel, and had a cool bunker run-up c/w railroad ties that you had to pick up your bike for. My friend and I finished roughly mid-pack among about 20-ish amateurs.
My work colleague took some great photos, here: Mennocross.
Well, this year I’m going to do it again. I’m thinking three Open races (I don’t feel pro enough to go get a race licence). This time, instead of the mountain bike, I’m going to use my urban commuter bike with cyclocross tires. After some research, I just bought these Kenda Kwicker cross tires Friday and can’t wait to try them out. I’ll be commuting with these into the fall and I think they’ll do well somewhat into the winter.
These should work a little better than the stock road tires that came on my bike. Here’s my bike after a failed attempt at a muddy trail in June: