You really need to get your friends and teammates to race 'cross, I mean REALLY. From what I've heard USAC membership numbers have been up the last couple of years in Nor-Cal, yet our CX races seem to be little sparsely-attended this season. It seems most of these new people are racing on the road of all places. I know I'm preaching to the choir but what about your friends? Why aren't they racing cross?
Why is this? My theories:
- The Norcal Elite Men are not as strong on the Nat'l scene. It seems our fearless foursome of Andy, Ben, Jackson, and Justin all have priorities like jobs, babies, road racing (sneer) that are eating into their CX time (don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with jobs and babies). What's more, nobody seems to be stepping up and filling their vacant spots. This bums me out. Note: we're not doing so badly in the Women's department with the Velo Bellas stepping up and trying to fill the shoes of Gina and Carmen. You may think it's a stretch to think that the absence of Elite riders has anything to do with turnout in the C's, B's, etc. I don't, these are the guys that inspired me to get all hot and heavy into cross and I know I'm not alone. Watching Justin racing at the '99 Natz in the Presidio was a pivotal moment in my cycling career - that next season I went from a retired roadie to a cx nut.
- We lack juniors/espoirs to step into these big shoes. My son Liam is still about 12 years from racing cross...any other ideas? So. Cal (namely Scary Fast Racing) is doing a great job recruiting juniors. Everyone knows how great Rad Racing has been doing with kids in the NW. If we can get some clubs to do with Juniors what Velo Bella and the Velo Girls have done for Women, we'll be on the right track. Any ideas out there? I hear great stuff about mentoring on the road.
- Sponsorship - most teams are based around the road racing season (argh!!!) and my team is no different. CX season is at the end of the year when most of the money is spent and resources are gone. Why is so much money going to Road Racing? Are they really getting that much more exposure? There needs to be a "paradigm shift" in the thinking of sponsorship. Cyclocross is an excellent spectator sport where you can actually read the logos on our skinsuits. I challenge you to read ANYTHING off a jersey at the next crit you watch. Plus, people actually enjoy watching cyclocross. There are exceptions - Velo Bella has its priorities straight. Clif Bar gave us a glimpse a couple of seasons back what dedicated resources to the sport can accomplish - sending four riders to Worlds.
- Three Words: East Coast Nationals. This shouldn't be a deterrent, but sadly it is. CX Nats is a hoot and everyone knows it. Get over it and next year plan on travelling to RI, so it's a few hours more on a plane than Portland.
- Because I am not racing this year. I'm sure this accounts for most of you and I'm really touched. I feel your pain, you're so upset that I'm not out there going cross-eyed trying to latch on to the J-M's wheels that YOU decided to take the season off as well. Thanks, but it really isn't necessary. Come back next year please and I'll try to do the same. I promise.
So...these numbers are all road racers? Gimme a break. What are these people thinking? Here's my Top 10 reasons they should be racing cx:
- Chicks dig cross. And they race, too. Have you hugged a Bella today?
- Get Noticed. Have you ever heard someone scream your name in a road race? crit? That's because they can't find you. At most CX races I see, nearly every rider has fans cheering for them. Plus, Russ and Nancy and a about 4 or 5 other people took a close-up picture of you and put it on their website, and you didn't even have to take a flyer for that perk.
- Meet people...cool people. Yeah, before and after a CX race you can hang with some cool folks. Everyone is laid back here. Attitudes are left at home and your legs and lungs do the talking. The CX community is a close-knit and quirky bunch - where the carbon-craving techno-dweeb meets the tatooed cross-dressing bike messenger.
- Get better at riding a bike. CX requires skills and will definitely help your power and handling skills. Oh, is this why your stupid friends don't ride 'cross? Well then make fun of them for it at every opportunity, especially when they biff trying to bunny hop that broken bottle on the side of the road.
- Have a life off the bike even though you're in training. Elite racers rarely require rides much longer than 2hrs, shorter than most Cat 4 roadies train! Also, the season is only 4 months long, meaning that come January you can go snowboarding and not worry that you're missing some silly early-bird races. In CX, DFL is the early-bird race, and I'll be damned if you can have that much fun at some dumb training crit. Oh yeah, and you can race every weekend barely drive more than an hour each way.
- Weather. Bay Area pretty much has the perfect weather in the Fall. Or do your friends prefer sweltering in July in some god-forsaken Central Valley hellhole? Jumpin' Junipers did you see the forecast for Providence this weekend?
- Fun. I'm not sure how we manage to have so much fun doing something that hurts so much, but we do. Probably has something to do with brevity of the races, and 1-3 above. Also, did you ever get a beer feed in a road race?
- CX bikes are the ultimate utility bike. Double-duty as a road bike with a quick tire swap, or triple-duty as a commuter - it can handle it. Perfect bike for a long ride on fire roads or a mixed pavement/gravel ride. Think: road ride without cars...
- Learn how to really hurt. CX is as intense as you get. If you're wearing a HRM then you'll know your max HR in about 3 minutes if you dare look. Maybe this is why your stupid friends don't race cross?
- Avoid injury. Sure, you fall down and get a little scratched up from time-to-time, but that's nothing compared to sliding on your ass with 10 guys on a greasy corner into a curb because some joker took a stupid risk. Also, you can train on dirt thus lowering your probability of getting run over by a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion.
Is there something I missed?
Seriously, why aren't your pansy-ass friends racing cross??? Tell me...and tell them!