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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 11-03-05, 10:52 AM   #1
Mayonnaise
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Cyclocross a pure test of nerve, desire

By Craig Hill
Tacoma News Tribune
Published November 3, 2005

TACOMA, Wash. -- Cyclocross is kind of like mountain biking, except you regularly sling your bike over your shoulder and sprint up steep hills and jump over obstacles.

And it's kind of like road biking, except you regularly veer off the road and splash through the mud.

"What it is, is steeplechase on a bike," says Jerry Brown, the man known as Washington's godfather of cross.

Justin McGregor, assistant manager of Tacoma's Old Town Bicycle, says the best description he's heard is "Cyclocross is bike racing's punk-rock cousin."

Cyclocross, a cross between road and mountain biking, is growing wildly in popularity in the Northwest and around the country.

When the Emerald City Cyclocross Series kicked off its 10-race season at North SeaTac Park in SeaTac, Wash., at the end of September, there were more than 400 participants. In 1993, when Brown held the first race to raise money for the Marymoor Velodrome Association, he was happy to have 50.

"Now we're bursting at the seams," Brown says. "We are as big as we ought to be. We need people to start other race series around Western Washington."

Short courses

Races are held on short courses, typically three miles, and the winner is the rider who covers the most laps in a predetermined amount of time, usually 30 minutes to an hour. Courses typically include road riding, trail riding, steep hills and man-placed obstacles you have to carry your bike over.

"It's basically, how much pain can you stand," says Woodinville, Wash.'s Dave Fette, whose 12-year-old son, J.D., is a reigning cyclocross national champion.

While some compete on mountain bikes, they are at a disadvantage. Cyclocross bikes are geared to go faster and do much better on the road portions of the course. And while they look like road bikes, they are sturdier, have stronger brakes and have more clearance for knobby tires.

"If you tried to use a road bike on the course, it probably wouldn't hold up," says Jerry Cutright, coach of the Kent, Wash.-based Oh Boy! Oberto youth cyclocross team.

Cross, as the sport is commonly called, started in Europe more than 100 years ago as a way for cyclists to train in the winter. When a rider got cold, he warmed up by jumping off his bike and running with it over his shoulder.

The sport has developed a huge following in Europe.

Its popularity has increased in the Northwest over the past five years, as have all bicycling disciplines thanks to Lance Armstrong's Tour de France dominance.

"All fitness activities like this are becoming more popular," Baker says. "It's the trend right now. ... But I think people are drawn to cross because it is really fun. It's inclusionary -- the entire family can participate."

Family that bikes together . . .

The Fette family bikes together. While J.D. is winning on the youth circuit, his dad is a competitive mountain biker and his mom, Michelle, competes both in road and mountain bike events.

"It's proven to be a great atmosphere to be in," Dave Fette says. "It's the type of people you want your family to be around -- high-quality people who are self-motivated, health-oriented and like to challenge themselves."

McGregor, 24, tried cross for the first time a year ago and found the challenge he was looking for as he pedaled through North SeaTac Park.

"It was the hardest ride I've ever done," says McGregor, a passionate road rider. "I remember getting done and being tired and sore, and I couldn't wait to do it again."

One of the things Mike Walters of Tacoma likes best about cross is that it gets kids outdoors. His son, Sam, competes on the Oh Boy! Oberto youth team.

"Sam will ask his friends if they've ever been to Mt. Rainier, and only about one or two out of 10 will say yes," Walters says. "It just blows me away. We've become a sedentary society. I hope as this sport grows it will help fix that."

Sam and J.D., like their teammates, also play more traditional sports through clubs and their junior high schools. Sam plays basketball and baseball, and J.D. plays soccer and skis.

Cross is different.

There are no parents whining in the stands that the coach should put their children in. In cyclocross, everybody plays.

There are no parents pushing their kids to earn scholarships. In cross, there are no scholarships.

"It would be misleading to say there are no demanding parents," Fette says. "But it is different because it's such an individual experience. There is not a lot of extrinsic gratification. You don't get your name in the paper or your face on TV, and there are no big award ceremonies."

And there's a lesson there, too. "There is a purity to cross that you don't find in a lot of other things," Walters says. "You do it for the love of the sport."
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Old 11-03-05, 02:30 PM   #2
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Nice article. It's grown tremendously where I race in North Carolina over the last 5 years. I'm looking forward to my next race...
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Old 11-03-05, 02:34 PM   #3
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from someone who has never participated, it looks like the strangest activity. yet really fun at the same time. i'm thinking of getting into it next winter myself.
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Old 11-03-05, 04:10 PM   #4
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Yeah I race Cyclocross in north carolina, Its grown up a lot.
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Old 11-03-05, 04:41 PM   #5
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You guys are killing me. I'm stuck traveling for business (total will be 6 weeks), and I'm missing primo CX weather back home. Plus I'm not riding at all. I'm going fat and slow by the time I get back home. Really wanted to try racing this year.
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Old 11-04-05, 10:14 AM   #6
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jfmckenna-

i checked out my first race in Cary NC and hope to try a race out come spring.
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Old 11-04-05, 11:17 AM   #7
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Nice article Mayo. You should come out to the Chicago Cyclocross Cup stages
this season. ChiCrossCup.com You just missed the stage held on the South Side,
but there are two more being held in Joliet, one in St. Charles this weekend, and
the State Championships.

jeff

Note: There's a good group of singlespeeders at each race. You should come out!
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Old 11-04-05, 10:02 PM   #8
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Hey I raced in cary Nc last weekend, Hope to see yall in burlington on sunday ;_)
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Old 11-04-05, 11:04 PM   #9
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Matto-

My wife and I were going to try and make the trip to Burlington but can't. Let me know how ya did.

What is the name of that guy that crushed it last week @ the Cary Race.
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Old 11-07-05, 07:49 AM   #10
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Unfortunatlly my season has been destroyed due to weddings, sickness and other personal family things to do. My first race in NC this year will be at Hendersonville. You won't want to miss this weekend. Tim Hopkins always puts on a great course and this year it's UCI NCGP and there's a lot on the line. After the holidays I will be racing the Winter Cup as I have for the past 3 years.
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Old 11-07-05, 11:13 PM   #11
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Its Huge in North Carolina::

Thanks to Tim Hopkins or if you listen to Steve Lyster at Cycles De Oro in Greensboro thanks to Cycles De Oro it has gotten huge. We have record turnouts every race. 180++ riders. My season really sucks this year but I can't wait to get back out there. NOTE::: DO NOT RELY ON A SHOP THAT SELLS MOUNTAIN BIKES TO KNOW HOW TO GLUE ON A TUBULAR TIRE. I rolled TWO of them at Burlington. Tim says ride clinchers or lots of glue at Hendersonville. Lots of off camber.
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