Cycling

Pro Cyclocross Comes to Texas

By Scott 11/24/2015 5 minutes

Texas winter is mild in comparison to the frigid winters of more northern parts of the United States. While the temperatures may be warmer, that doesn’t mean that anyone likes riding for hours into an artic head wind. That frigid, humid wind cuts through layers of tech fabrics sapping warmth, as well as motivation, from even the most enthusiastic of riders. Some riders find solace riding indoors, others tough it out, some don’t even bother. However, a growing group of enlightened cyclists turn to the storied discipline of cyclocross to stave off the winter blues.

For those unfamiliar, a cyclocross is a high intensity racing discipline done on a short, mostly off road, circuit (around 2 miles) over the course of about 30-60 minutes. Riders tackle a weaving paths through grassy fields and wooded areas, with a number of obstacles thrown in the mix like barriers that require jumping or dismounting and mud or sand pits. The bikes ridden by professionals and enthusiasts resemble road bikes, with drop handlebars and suspension-less frames, but with larger knobby tires and disc brakes. There are strict rules for the bikes raced in international competition, but much laxer rules for the local races. The typical season runs from fall through winter. It was traditionally used as a way to stay fit through the winter for road cyclists, but has developed into a popular discipline in its own right.

The sport is most popular in Europe, mainly Belgium. The biggest races in Belgium charge admission to spectate and often serve beer in an atmosphere that resembles soccer hooligans and football tailgates. In the United States, the scene is strongest in the northeast and northwest, where the worst of Texas winter sounds like a nice warm front. The Texas scene is not nearly as big, but is rapidly growing in popularity. Emulating Belgian fans, fellow racers and enthusiasts partake in a party atmosphere, enjoying a few libations while heckling their friends. Texas breweries and distilleries have opened up the area around their facilities to become race venues and promote their products. This December, two weekends of internationally sanctioned races are coming to Texas. Professionals from all over the country will be making their way to Garland (DFW) and Waco pursuit of UCI points that can improve their start position for the national title race the following month. Look out for local pro Tristan Uhl of Giant South as he fights the biggest names in the country on his home turf. Plus he's fun to watch, as he has a tendency to catch air when he’s going fast.

You need not be a pro to be able to get in on the action. Thanks to the short courses the races are very spectator friendly, and are often in a park setting. Various races are run to accommodate racers male and female, young and old, new and experienced.  Training for a sub one-hour effort is a much less time consuming than your next century ride or marathon. Check Thea.com for upcoming events including races, introductory cyclocross clinics and coaches that can help you achieve your goals!

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Scott

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