1) Playing in the mud is a lot of fun!
There haven't been a whole lot of true ol'fashioned Belgian mudfests the last two seasons here in New England and I for one miss the heck outta them. For those of us with more bike handling skill than fitness the mud can be a great equalizer. For now, since the season is over and global-warming, er, climate change is having its way with our weather we are stuck watching interweb feeds of the European races to get our mud fix.
2) You get to carry your bike when you forget how to pedal it due to oxygen-debt.
This isn't as easy as it may seem. Often you are running with your bike because it's actually faster to do so than to keep trying to turn those darn pedals over anymore. And like many cyclists I ride a bike to avoid running in the first place so the idea of adding some running into my training regimen make me laugh so hard that my energy drink shoots out of my nose.
That said it just might improve my results. Darn.
3) Duffers like me can ride the same course as National Champions. That's Tim Johnson passing the beer garden at Gloucester last October.
This is actually pretty darn cool. A few hours after we get the course ready for them, the pros race on the exact same course we amateurs have flogged ourselves on. In fact it is our tires that have shown the pros which lines are NOT the fastest allowing them to improve on our lap times. It's a service I happily provide.
4) Crashing in 'cross is rarely a disaster...
...except for your ego. Even though it often feels like you are abso-freakin'-lutely flying around the park the speeds you reach in a 'cross race are nowhere near those you'd approach on the road. That in concert with the fact that much of the race takes place on grass, dirt or sand, crashes happen often without dire consequences. Just don't do it in front on the beer-tent and everything should be ok.
5) If you buy a cool looking kit your kids might think you are a pro.
It's as simple as buying a jersey with sublimated logos and ads. Do that, pin on a number and pay your 30 bucks and you'll look 80%-85% pro-tastic which is plenty to fool even the most savvy 10 year old. Go overboard and shave your legs (men or women) and you're 95% of the way there. The highlight of my 2011 season was undoubtedly the moment when my son looked at a photo of me racing a few years back in an old wool (no logos) jersey and said, "That's from before you were sponsored." Yep. My son thinks I'm a pro. That's better than actually being one what with all the training and travel and pain. Woo-hoo!
6) 'Cross fans are the best!
I think the above photo says it better than I ever could. I get the impression that maybe, just maybe these two took a wrong turn on their way to the regional dog-show and had bought beer coupons before realizing their mistake. It speaks to the spectator-friendliness of the sport that they stayed. Bonus points if you can spot the Tour De France stage winner in the pic.
7) 'Cross is tough on your bike.
Any cyclist worth his or her doping program is first and foremost a gear head. Nothing but the latest and greatest will do for us the recreational weekend-warrior. "Should I drop $2500 on those carbon wheels?" isn't a question that even gets asked because it's tantamount to asking, "Should I breathe this fresh air?" Those wheels will potentially shave .5 - 1 seconds off your laps times which is the difference between 35th and 38th place! Plus they look damn hot. Cyclocross racing will break shite on your bike making it imperative that it be replaced with something better, lighter and shinier. That makes us gear junkies very happy indeed.
8) You can look like a gazelle.
As any resident of the African savannah can attest, gazelles are not only graceful they are also steadfast, honest and true. Not many humans can claim to be all of those things but for a few brief, shining moments on the 'cross course we can get a taste of the elegant majesty these animals represent.
9) (Almost) everyone's butt looks better in lycra.
There are of course exceptions and they can be horrifically memorable but for the most part lycra does a fantastic job of holding-in, molding and shaping in an eye-pleasing manner. This "ass shaping" phenomenon is similar to the "hot-butt/wet-suit" corollary seen in surfing circles.
10) It's fun as hell to bust-ass around a racecourse on a bike.
Our society does a great job limiting the fun opportunities of adults. Riding a bike sorta fast on a usually pretty fun course trying to go faster than some guys/gals who you suspect might be assholes in real-life is, to put it mildly, a hoot. I look forward to 'cross season all year and then mourn it's passing about 5 minutes after I stop throwing up after the last race.
If this post has made you even slightly curious about my lil' sport wake up early-ish one January weekend and point your browser at www.cyclingfans.com and take in a European cyclocross race. Most big races start at 9am eastern-time.
To check out my results from this just finished season (and seasons long past) click on this link: