When I lived in England I remember a sport called Cyclocross. It consisted of cross-country bicycle races using road bikes and from the pictures I saw, the riders spent as much time carrying their bikes over obstacles as they did riding them. It looked incredibly tough, the sort of sport you think “why on earth do they do that?”. With the advent of mountain biking, I expected cyclocross to have lost its appeal and to have been replaced.
When I heard about a cyclocross event in Hillsboro, just outside of Portland, I realized I had to go and see for myself. I was expecting a small event just for the diehards and was really surprised to find the Washington County Fairgrounds packed. The weather was dull with increasingly heavy rain, perfect conditions for crazy bike races!
The first race I saw was for the kids and I expected them to have a smaller course than the 2 mile adult one, but of course not, this is crazy cycling, nobody gets break. The kids had to maneuver through the adult obstacles consisting of banks of mud, slippery turns and even a wooden staircase, just in case the natural obstacles weren’t challenging enough. As the riders started each race in their clean colorful uniforms, I saw smiles all round. They must either have very short memories or they really do enjoy the pain and suffering that was to follow?
Once the riders had completed the first lap, my expectations came true, the smiles turned to grimaces and looks of “when will this be over”. Mud was flying all over and those bright colorful uniforms started to merge into a consistent muddy brown color. As the races progressed, it looked like the bikes picked up more and more mud, I’m sure adding yet another unwelcome challenge. At one particularly nasty corner I noticed a spectator holding up a sign that simply said “Pain”. I couldn’t argue with his perspective.
Once the races were over, the smiles came back and I’m sure the talk focused on how much they had suffered in the race and when was the next chance to do it over again. I am glad I was there only taking pictures and if you get the chance to see one of these events, I highly recommend it, if for no other reason of reminding yourself of your own sanity!
No mudguards on those bikes!
My mother used to tell me, if you don’t have mud guards you’ll get really dirty. She was right!
Love the pics, as well as your assessment of ‘cross. I must agree with you 🙂