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Cyclocross developed in the early 1900s, primarily in Europe, as a way for road racers to squeeze in off season training, and events still traditionally take place in the fall and winter. Riders do laps, usually about 3 kilometers long, often through mud, sand, grass and even creeks. They dismount and carry bikes over manmade or natural barriers. Cyclocross bikes are slightly beefier versions of road bikes, with tweaks such as more clearance around the tires for mud and more stable (albeit slower) steering. Races typically last between 30 and 60 minutes, which makes for a lot of action in a short time.
Everyone has a story about the moment they realized just how big cyclocross has become in America. For Dorothy Wong, the director of the SoCal Cross race series, it was during the 2003 Tour de France, when Lance Armstrong swerved around Joseba Beloki, rolled through a field near Gap, dismounted and jumped over a ditch television announcer Phil Liggett credited his 'cross skills. 'cross champion, it was the sight of a 14yearold blond kid in cutoffs, riding a mud covered 1990s era Sterling with knobby tires at a local race last year. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, it was when 800 riders showed up to a USGP race in Portland, Oregon, in 2008 hurricane warnings. At BICYCLING, one of the wow moments occurred when an unsanctioned, weekly nighttime 'cross race in an editor's backyard (which included a shortcut for anyone who'd chug a Pabst Blue Ribbon) drew a field of 50 that included two reigning national mountain bike champions and a former 'cross world champ.
'Cross is also spectator friendly. Races are often staged in city parks near playgrounds, picnic tables and barbecues. Ross, who also designs courses, often plots out a cloverleaf pattern, which means riders are constantly in view. "As a spectator, you can see the whole race by standing in one place," he says. "Preferably in the beer garden." Plus, many 'cross races Air Huarache Nike Shoes
Ross and others believe the American version is the future. "I see it becoming sort of an adult league for the average Joe to do," he says. "It's a healthy, family friendly, community oriented sport." Rutledge always comes back to that 14 year old kid: "He's the future of cyclocross Nike Huarache Light Blue And White I think, of cycling. We aren't highfalutin'. We're approachable."
In contrast, European 'cross is structured like a traditional sport, and comes with the attendant huge audience in Belgium, still considered the sport's center, can draw 35,000 spectators. Many sites are able to charge a fee of 5 euro or more just to watch. The crowd, for the most part, is made of sports fans rather than the participants and their family members. The biggest races might include just 250 of the world's best racers instead of a course populated all day by soccer moms and tweens as well as sponsored athletes.
Maybe. The question of America's impact on the sport is the most interesting one to be answered. The American scene has grown from the bottom up. Until just a few years ago, the sport was contested only by a small group of stalwarts in a few hotbeds around the country, most notably New England. Racers here were drawn by the combination of the short but intense workout and the friendly, laidback vibe.
But by far, the biggest news in cyclocross yes, tech geeks, even bigger than this year's announcement that the UCI will allow the use of disc brakes that the 2013 world championships have been awarded to Louisville, Kentucky. This is the first time the event has been staged outside of Europe in 50 years, and the first time it's ever been held in the United States. "We're ready to take advantage of this window," says Hanscom, who will produce the Louisville event. Rutledge is more effusive. "We're coming on like a tidal wave," he says. "The Euros won't know what hit them."
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Multiple World Cup medalist Katie Compton tried her first 'cross race as a University of Delaware student a decade ago. "I figured if I had that much fun being that hung over, there was something to this sport," she says. "And it's a short, intense suffering rather than a long, drawn out suffering." Riders below the elite level also discovered that 'cross is less intimidating and time consuming than other disciplines. You don't have to think about traffic; there's no road rash, no 40 plus mile per hour descents, no strict code of conduct or overwhelming snobbishness about gear or apparel. "In 'cross, no one gives a rat's ass what you wear," says Brad Ross, who runs Cross Crusade. Compton adds that, "Because you're doing laps, you don't have to worry about being dropped."
has gone from 60 riders a weekend to 1,200 far the biggest scene in the country. Permanent parks are being built in Boulder, Colorado, and Covington, Kentucky another Nike Air Huarache Navy Blue
on the drawing board in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
have a festival like vibe; people pitch tents, play music and trade war stories around campfires. "It creates a bond that's closer than any sport I've ever done," says Rutledge.
The statistics that support this cultural awareness of cyclocross's growth are compelling just as varied. According to USA Cycling, cyclocross is officially the nation's fastest growing two wheeled discipline: During the last five years, participation jumped from 32,000 to 72,000, and many of the new riders are women and juniors. Cross Vegas pulled in 10,000 spectators in 2009. Cross Crusade, an eight race series in Portland, Oregon, now in its 18th season, Huaraches Women Red
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