We Are Cyclo-Cross Racers!
By Dr. Barry Wahner
At my office it is obvious that we are bike racers so we are frequently
asked about our racing. When we say we race “Cyclo-Cross” we have to
follow up with some explanations. Many people (both at the office and
other athletes) ask why we don’t race on the road or mountain bikes.
While I have some valid reasons, the truth of the matter is Cyclo-Cross
is my passion!
Yes, I mostly train on the road in the off season and enjoy it. But
when the Summer gets close to the end, I mount up a pair of wide ‘cross
tires and hit the fields in the local parks. Riding in the parks there
is something about the “earthy” smell in the air that feels
invigorating. Riding in fields and through woods is peaceful and makes
me feel like a teenager again. Those feelings may be related to my High
School and College years running Cross Country. I am not sure if others
have similar reasons to love Cyclo-Cross, but clearly there is
something about it that continues to draw more and more athletes to the
sport every Fall.
If you are not sure what Cyclo-Cross racing is, the best way to learn
is to experience it. Go to a local race and cheer on the athletes,
enjoy the food, drink and atmosphere. You see, Cyclo-Cross racing is a
sporting event but wrapped around can be a carnival like atmosphere. At
the biggest races you will see spectators dressed in costumes, people
ringing cow bells, kids cruising around on their own bikes. There is
music, there is food (you will find burgers, burritos, fries, and even
Belgian waffles with all kinds of delicious toppings) and you will find
beer (beer seems to be the hallmark beverage of ‘cross racing).
At the races the spectators can be as much fun to watch as the
athletes. They can be crazy, cheering, screaming and running after the
racers. At some races the fans put dollar bills in the dirt for the
racers to grab as they ride past. They hand out cans of beer hoping a
racer suffering at the back of the pack will grab one on the way by.
But it is the athletes that you are there to watch, so cheer for them,
scream for them, ring your cow bells and let them know you are there.
At a cross race you can get right up close to the athletes, you can see
their efforts, their pain and beneath it all you can see they are
I should give a warning, it IS possible that you will come out to a
race and get drawn into the sport. I spoke to two guys today where
exactly that happened. Two years ago they came out to watch a friend
race and now they are out there racing too. If you don’t get inspired
to race you may become one of the devoted spectators that I see out
there in a crazy hat, ringing a cow bell, jamming money into the dirt
while eating a Belgian waffle. Either way, I look forward to seeing you
out there soon.
For a listing of local cross races:
www.MidAtlanticCross.com. For a terrific race to watch, check out
Granogue Cross coming up in mid October.
For all things Cyclo-Cross:
www.CycloCrossWorld.com has cyclo-cross gear, news and race
information. This is the site for all your needs.
For terrific pictures of local racers:
http://www.pbase.com/dens/cyclocross_010 Dennis gets to the local
races and gets great pictures.
Dr. Barry Wahner
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