11 January 2012

Cyclo-cross - join in the fun!

If you haven't discovered cyclo-cross yet - you need to
I love this sport, and yes, love is a strong word. But cyclocross is growing and developing in ways in which there is no wrong to this sport, just enjoyment, excellent racing, and a lot of effort. Unless you are a fan of course, where effort mostly involves dressing appropriately (for weather, appropriate fashion is actually discouraged), and leaving a chunk of time to watch race after race, because you will not want to leave the fun. As frozen and cold as you might be, and struggling to juggle a beer and a camera and heckle at the top of your lungs, you'll have a blast because cyclocross is a real spectator sport.
A few weeks ago, my cycling buddies asked me if I was going to compu-trainer class at 8:00am on the following Saturday morning, aghast I replied, "No! Are you kidding me - it's States tomorrow!" Now keep in mind, I don't race, but I mark my calendar with the best cyclcross races of the season in Colorado as if I needed to peak for them myself. In fact after witnessing the fun at Cross Vegas this past September in Las Vegas, I think that cross racing might be worth journeying to just as I journey to the Grand Tours.
If you are into emotion and entertainment in sport (like our buddy Jens Voigt), then cyclocross is your destiny as a fan. Whether you spell it cyclo-cross, cyclocross or CX - just go see a race! Here is my summary as a fan: 
  • Stage Races - great fun to watch in a beautiful setting with enthusiastic fans before, during, and after the race. Even if the riders "look so much bigger on TV and fly by within 20 seconds". The travel is fun, the riders appreciative and accessible, and the history long.
  • Criteriums - okay if you enjoy watching the same 100 riders zoom by in a blur of 10 laps around city blocks, where you are lucky to pick out 2 riders per lap, and have lots of free time on the weekends. There is a reason why girlfriends and wives are scarce at Crit races, but the races are fun to attend to say hi to friends.
  • Mountain Bike races - you might as well just go ride your bike yourself.
  • Cyclo-cross races - you are absolutely discouraged to stand along the barriers with a serious face thinking that the race is only about who wins. You need a cowbell, a crazy hat, a number of beers, a loud voice, and a good sense of humor. Worth every bit of your time if you are willing to let go and have some fun. "Hup hup buttercup, you're not that old yet!"
I am in cyclo-cross withdrawals, I need to go heckle some snowboarders on the half pipe. For now, 303Cycling routed me to this video by CyclingDirt (including grand gestures) recapping the USA Cyclo-cross National Championships which took place this past weekend in Madison, WI. I can't help but wish that the Gregory Brothers would songify this guy in the video. CyclingDirt could take a cyclo-cross video viral. View full race results if you wish.

I had a great time this past Sunday watching (when I wasn't talking) the race at a party organized by my favorite local CX racing team Frites en Mayo Velo Club. They gathered folks together at their new sponsor Wynkoop Brewery's downtown Denver location to watch the championship race in Wisconsin streaming live on the big screen. What a great way to get cyclists together who normally only see each other out racing in the mud and cold. 
Video recap of Elite Mens race by In The Crosshairs
Worlds is still to come. The UCI World Championship Cyclo-Cross 2012 will be held in Koksijde, Belgium, on the 28th and 29th of January. I hope the Frites en Mayo Velo Club team throws another party.
January 8th was a big day for cyclo-cross racing around the world - other National Champions of cyclo-cross were crowned over the weekend and now a number of these great athletes will meet up at Worlds! Who are the new national champions of cyclo-cross? (read more at the UCI cyclo-cross home page)
USA: Jeremy POWERS (age 29)
Austria: Daniel GEISMAYR (age 23) 
Canada:  Chris SHEPPARD (age 39) 
Croatia: Jasmin BECIROVIC (age 20) 
Belgium: Sven NYS (age 36) 
Czech Republic: Zdenek STYBAR (age 27) 
Denmark: Kenneth HANSEN (age 21) 
Finland: Sami TIAINEN (age 23) 
France: Aurelien DUVAL (age 24) 
Germany: Christoph PFINGSTEN (age 25) 
Great Britain: Ian FIELD (age 26) 
Hungary: Szilard BURUCZKI (age 33) 
Ireland: Robin SEYMOUR (age 41) 
Italy: Elia SILVESTRI (age 22) 
Japan: Yu TAKENOUCHI (age 24) 
Luxembourg: Gusty BAUSCH (age 32) 
Pays-Bas: Lars BOOM (age 27) 
Poland: Mariusz GIL (age 29) 
Slovakia: Robert GAVENDA (age 24) 
Spain: Isaac SUAREZ FERNANDEZ (age 33) 
Sweeden: Magnus DARVELL (age 30) 
Switzerland: Julien TARAMARCAZ (age 25)
Jeremy Powers (website, twitter) is featured in the SRAM The Road Dairies (videos). And just because I captured a number of photos this year of our new USA Cyclo-cross Champion Jeremy Powers (who also rides for Team Jelly Belly during the road season), some 2011 photos of Jeremy Powers by PedalDancer.com:
J-Pow cyclo-cross racing images from the USGP CX Longmont, CO
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
J-Pow road racing images at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge prologue at Garden of the Gods, CO.
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
©Photo by Pedal Dancer
Update 01/12/12: Wow, once you earn the title it does not take long to get the kit - Jeremy Powers in his new National Champion Cyclo-cross kit

Update 01/13/12: The Frites en Mayo Velo Club will indeed be having another party for anyone wanting to watch Worlds streaming live from Belgium - Sunday, January 29th at 7:00am (I know - it's early!) at The Three Lions in Denver, Colorado. Read more on their blog.