Friday, September 30, 2011

Time to Get Dirty

I hope you enjoyed your one week off-season, because cyclocross season has arrived. Okay, technically the season kicked off two weeks ago at CrossVegas, and lots of people around the country and the world have been ripping the CX for quite some time already. But we thought it would be unfair to start the new 'cross season before we'd officially crowned Rand Miller the king of the crits. Now that that's out of the way we can prepare for one of our favorite parts of the year: cyclocross season!
But let's back up. Some of you might be wondering what all this cyclocross nonsense is about. I've heard all sorts of questions from people who aren't yet acquainted with the sport: "Isn't that like road racing on an obstacle course, but with fatter tires? Don't people crash, like all the time? Do you have to drink beer to participate?" Well, the answers are yes, yes, and no (though it's recommended). Think of cyclocross as the love child of road racing and mountain biking. You ride a basically unmodified road bike, except it has cantilever brakes to allow for wider knobbier tires (see video below). You then take aforementioned bike and do your best to navigate a course combining grass, dirt, mud, sand and any combination of low barriers and steep "run-ups" that require you to dismount and carry your bike. It's about the most fun you can have on two wheels.

Williams Cycling President Keith "K$" Williams gettin' after it!
Part of the beauty of 'cross is the scene that surrounds it. While there is a well developed pro circuit featuring gifted athletes competing all over the world, cyclocross still has a decidedly underground feel here in the US. People seem way more concerned with having a good time than with winning, and most races are accompanied by a festival atmosphere. Spectators bring picnics or snack on vendor food. They down brews and shout encouragement or dish out good-natured heckling, and you see racers in costumes ranging from pink tutus to full Batman outfits. The beauty of 'cross is that it's such a fun scene for everyone involved, and that goes just as much for the spectators as it does for the racers.
Ryan and Phil reppin the "W"
Cyclocross has been blowing up around the country over the last few years and it doesn't look like that growth is slowing. We've gone from having a couple of regional series to a massive structure with the national USGP at the top, a number of strong regional series and countless local series and races sprouting like weeds all over the country. This virtually guarantees there's a good race near you sometime soon, and you owe it to yourself to go check it out. 

As for us over here at Williams Cycling we could not be more stoked. We're within easy distance of both the Sacramento Cyclocross Series and the Bay Area Super Prestige series, which should provide us with ample opportunities to slip, slide and crash our way around a race and consume our weight in frites and beer. We're keyed up, and you should be to. And if you're looking for a set of bomb-proof cross specific wheels you should listen to what our president Keith has to say about our redesigned 2011 Alloy Cyclocross Tubulars: