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‘Cross Season Cometh

With some colder temps settling in and ski season still months away, it’s time to fall in love with Cyclocross all over again. What’s up with ‘cross you say? Here’s the deal – Cyclocross bikes are built on a road bike platform with some key tweaks to build in off road versatility. First, the frames are a bit wider to accept knobby tires to shred the dirt like you road bike can only dream of. With dirt terrain comes the need for better braking – add on cantilever (old school mountain bike) brakes and you’ve got yourself a ‘cross bike. Of course there are some more subtle attributes of ‘cross bikes like more relaxed geometry, slightly different gearing, and cable routing that makes the bike easier to run with. Run with?! More on that in a minute. Can you make these upgrades to your existing road bike? Nope, not gonna happen. That’s what makes a ‘cross bike so cool.  You can get into a new cyclocross bike for as little as $900.

So you’ve got this bike that is slower than a road bike on pavement and sketchier than a mountain bike on dirt. Great, sounds like a blast right? It is, but you have to see the light first and have faith in the church of ‘cross to really get it. Think about it, you’ve pedaled your road bike on every stretch of pavement between here and Yellowstone all summer and you’re a bit bored. Well how ’bout mixing in some dirt road adventure riding to your daily routine. Don’t turn around at the end of Fall Creek, keep going and loop back to Jackson from the Snake River Canyon. Find out where the Elk Refuge road really goes. Test your bike handling skills on a cyclocross Cache Game loop. And don’t even get me started on Teton Valley, Idaho. If you ride anywhere around Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia, a ‘cross bike quadruples your riding options and brings you to beautiful places you didn’t even know existed. And the best part is, the colder and crummier the weather, the more fun it is!

But wait, there’s more. That do everything/adventure ‘cross bike of yours is also exactly what you need get in on the fastest growing segment of cycling in the country – ‘cross racing. Here are the basics of cyclocross racing:

  • Racers compete on a short lap course that is partially pavement and mostly off road
  • Each race is between 1/2 hour to 1 hour long
  • Obstacles are placed on course to force riders off their bike to run through sections
  • Racing takes place in the Fall and bad weather is appreciated

That’s the quick and dirty, but the story is bigger than that.

  • ‘Cross racing is bike racing for non bike racers.
  • ‘Cross racing is THE most spectator friendly bike racing.
  • ‘Cross races are festivals and parties
  • ‘Cross races are for the whole family

Think about it, most bike races take you far from home and require a summer worth of training that may or may not go over too well with the significant other.  If you do bring your family to watch your race, they sit in one area, give you some shouts of encouragement as you leave the start line, and then wait for sometimes hours before you zip by again in a flash or finally finish the stupid race that you dragged them to in the middle of no where!

‘Cross racing has a different taste.  Training can be as simple as a weekly one hour ride with buddies.  The races are local, and short.  Different categories mean that while Mom races, Dad watches the kids and vice versa.  Even kids get their own category!  When you’re not racing, competitors come by every 5 minutes or so and demand that you ring a cowbell in their face!  When it’s all said and done, you gather up to drink beer and tell the story about how you got mud in your teeth over and over to anyone who will listened.  Oh, and did I mention it doesn’t matter if you win?  Battling for 15th place feels just as important as 1st because who can really tell where the leaders are anyway!

Yes, ‘cross racing is addicting… If you want to check out the local support groups for ‘cross addicts, here’s how…

Local Cyclocross Events:

  • Weekly Wednesday Morning ‘Cross Practice – 7:30am roll out from the Bunnery in Jackson
  • September 25th – ‘Cross Kickoff / Oktoberfest Party at Grand Teton Brewing in Victor, ID
  • October 2nd&3rd – MooseCross Race presented by Grand Teton Brewing in Victor, ID
  • October 30th – Spooky Cross Victor, ID
  • November 6th, 13th, and 20th – The Cube Cyclocross Series Rexburg, ID

If you need more fix, there are great races all through Montana, Idaho, Utah and beyond!

Try it… you’ll like it!

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