Americans love sports and by the looks of some local Stadiums Texas really loves sports. But Cycling is often under-looked and under-appreciated and despite some scandal (like all sports) it’s still one of the worlds most popular sports. Cyclists are amazing athletes (myself not included…) who tend to enjoy the pain and challenge of bike racing. There are numerous disciplines in the sport but none are as spectator friendly as Cyclocross.
^ Check out this video from last year’s weekly races
Cyclocross is a discipline originally created for road racers looking for a way to keep fitness over the winter. The sport has evolved and changed to not only fill that niche but offer a fun and casual race for all cyclists. Racers are laid-back and mostly in it to have fun with friends. The races are run off-road (usually in fields) on short courses. The short courses offer spectators great views of all the action and you can easily see the tactics and racing unfold.
Cyclocross courses aren’t just a taped loop in a field but are filled with obstacles, often requiring getting off the bike, including mud, sand, wooden barriers, stairs and technical run ups. Field sections usually have tight corners and quick straights making racing hard and fast. Crashes are usually harmless making for some entertaining moments.
Fans of the sport are encouraged (and mostly required) to heckle racers with light-hearted insults and jabs. Racers also enjoy “hand-ups” from spectators which include beverages, food, gift cards and money. While hand-ups are technically against the national federation rules most officials look the other way at local races. While some courses are on land where consumption is frowned upon the sport has a long history of responsible beer consumption. A lot of national races are sponsored by breweries and in Belgium (the sports “home”) most spectators will have a stein in one hand and a cone of frites in the other.
National races in the U.S often have 10,000+ spectators and in Europe races can have turnouts rivaling any NFL game. Come out to a race and see for yourself how fun the fastest growing cycling race discipline can be.
Local races are held at Woodcreek Church in Richardson on Wednesday nights. Racing starts at 5:30pm and runs until November 20th. Details at texascross.com. State level races take place most weekends and the schedule can be found on texascx.com. Make sure to check out Spooky Cross at Dallas Heritage Village 10/26 and 10/27.
***Photos courtesy Shane Salley and Ann Blackburn-Hiner