Cyclocross, abbreviated to CX, is catching on like wildfire! The Chicago Cyclocross Cup races are selling out in record time and those who arrive after the first few races are struggling to find parking any many of the venues.
But you’re not a racer. Why should you care?
Maybe you’re not up to riding challenging courses – switchbacks, 180 degree off-camber turns, long straight-aways that demand maximal power efforts, multiple barriers where you’re required to dismount and remount – through rough terrain – mud, sand, gravel, grass – in extreme conditions – freezing temperatures, driving rain, snow and sleet – that demand 100% effort for the entire 30-60 minutes of racing.
But, you don’t have to race to appreciate the wild and intense world of cyclocross. We’re here to tell you that cyclocross is a spectators’ sport.
Racers take multiple laps around a course, allowing multiple viewings of your favorite racers. Most courses twist and circle back, so you can even spectate from multiple spots if you’re so inclined.
And then there’s the heckling – which has turned cyclocross spectating into a sport unto itself. In fact, Chicago Cyclocross Cup has a Heckle Hall of Fame, a page dedicated to the best heckles overheard at the races. Psimet actually wrote a Cyclocross Heckling Primer.
Because cyclocross races are family-friendly events, heckling should be clean and devoid of any foul language. You’ll hear heckles like:
Then there are the hand-ups…
In a race where everything is about getting you to fall off your bike – from the sand and mud to the 180-degree off-camber turns and barriers – spectators get in on the action and encourage a little (more) mayhem.
Onlookers will plant dollar bills in the sand in an attempt to get racers to reach for the money and, presumably, fall.
Some will hold up food or drinks for the riders to grab and will even come up with creative ways to hand it off – like dangling from a fishing line. While there are a lot of candy hand-ups, another favorite is the raw bacon wrapped around a dollar bill – the idea being that daring or greedy racers will have to negotiate shifters and brakes with greasy fingers.
There really is no end to the creativity of the cyclocross spectator. What crazy heckle or wacky hand-up will you come up with?
Start practicing your heckling. Dig up your bullhorn and your cowbell. Pack up the kids and the blankets.
Even if you’re not racing this season, we’ll be expecting you at the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course October 25th.
There will be food for purchase out on the course, so plan to make a day of it. See you there!
Saturday, October 25th is the second annual Rhythm & Blues Revue Cyclocross Race sponsored by Higher Gear.
Don’t miss this opportunity to spectate!
For those who want to know…
So, What Is Cyclocross Anyway?
Gaining worldwide popularity, cyclocross is a form of bicycle racing that originated in the early 1900′s as a way for European road racers to keep in shape during the autumn and winter months. Racers would participate in “steeplechase” type events (named for the church steeple, often the only visible landmark and thus the finish line), cutting through fields, over fences and other obstacles in a race to the next town.
In translating the original town-to-town races onto a 1.5-2 mile-long course, the course crosses pavement, wooded trails, grass, gravel and steep hills, and those obstacles are now recreated with wooden barriers that require racers to quickly dismount and carry their bikes.
The autumn-winter season means that cyclocross is still a great way for cyclists to keep in shape before the spring road season. The bike handling skills required to navigate the varying terrain and conditions can enhance road bike handling. Cyclocross has, however, achieved a popularity of its own. Some racers choose to specialize in cyclocross. In fact, many of our Gearheads train year-round for the Chicago Cyclocross Cup (CCC) season, which is about to begin.