16 November 2010

Why is Cyclocross so aesthetically ugly?

Orange fencing, parking lots, and yellow boards

I cannot be the first to notice how absolutely unattractive it is to attend a cyclocross race. I was watching the live coverage by CyclingDirt.org of the USGP of Cyclocross - Fort Collins, CO, this last weekend. It is purely awesome that CyclingDirt has worked hard to grow the sport by making the race available to viewers online (for those of us stuck at home unable to drive due to a broken pelvis). The race coverage was quite good, but watching the riders go round and round was like watching hamsters run in a maze. An unattractive orange plastic fence wrapped maze.
Cyclocross takes place in industrial parks, office parking lots, school yards and just about anywhere were folks won't get upset about riders and spectators destroying the land for the next generation. I had really wanted to go watch the best in our nation race at the Grand Prix last weekend, but more accurately I really just wanted to get out of my house! However upon watching the race online I couldn't help but think, I would have crutched my broken body out in the freezing cold weather through the mud to stand outside in that setting, why?
I look at the racers that race cyclocross and think, I bet they can train in their basements on rollers all winter and think nothing of it. Their need is for speed, not for beauty. Road cycling is appealing because of the great distances covered over spectacular terrain. Every Spring I begin my mornings by popping up the Spring Classics, and then the Grand Tours, on my 2nd computer screen set on my office desk. It is tradition to let the kilometers of scenery roll by before me as I begin my day. Cyclocross doesn't deliver this same beauty on the screen, or in person.
Cyclocross appeals to me because it reminds me of my childhood when a pack of neighborhood kids would gather on our bikes and ride dirt paths through the canyons or build jumps over ramps in nearby lots. It was pure play. Cyclocross looks like pure play for adults. But it is ugly play. I am pretty sure that is why spectators drink heavily at Cyclocross races, they are trying to numb the ugliness until they can return to the beauty of their office cubicles on Monday morning.
I would like to beseech someone to please develop new barriers and fencing for this sport to make it more attractive! Even the beauty of men clad in lycra cannot make up for a thousand yards of orange fencing and do not cross this crime scene looking tape. There has to be a better way. I feel for the photographers who try to make this sport appear intriguing through their lenses when the background looks like a construction pit.  
This beautiful scene was taken by 303Cycling photographers at the USGP in Fort Collins
Another glorious scene by photographer Dan Reiber at the USGP in Fort Collins
This weekend there will be another CX race, which I'm trying to convince myself would be okay to attend, since, you know, I love cycling. Obviously I must need to get out of the house pretty bad to be willing to hang around a dirt pit on a weekend in Colorado. Bring on the beauty of the ski season!
I am clinging to a romantic notion of what cyclocross must be like in Belgium, and even in Portland. It's gotta be nicer then it is in Colorado. This video however is nearly 9 minutes of fun, and attractive goofy fun at that! A video of how I think cyclocross should look; just a pack of guys out on the moors:


found on http://www.twojohnspodcast.missingsaddle.com/