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cj2002

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Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
« on: September 17, 2012, 10:20 »
...but was afraid to ask.

I chose that particular thread title ahead of "No Cyclocross please, I'm British :win

My girlfriend asked a very perceptive question yesterday... What am I going to do once the cycling season is over?!?

Now I'm a fan of almost anything on wheels, so the conclusion to the F1 season will keep me going for a while, and there is of course football and rugby. But I've been hearing the gentle rumble of cyclocross tyres getting ever closer, and my curiosity has been piqued.

So tell me: what is cyclocross, and why should I care?   :-\ ;D
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  • « Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 21:19 by Dim, Reason: added image for article page »
    He shook his head sadly and told me that endemic drug use had compelled him to give up a promising career. "Even one small local race, prize was a salami, and I see doping!" - Tim Moore: Gironimo (Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy)

    L'arri

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 10:45 »
    'Cross is excellent fun to ride and to watch, especially here in Belgium, where it dominates the winter. It will tide you over the whole off-season and there's a narrative there which you can follow.

    - Closed circuit = plenty of photo-opps and facetime

    - Much slower racing brings you very close to the riders

    - Great outdoors: locations in the countryside, often snow on the ground.

    - Atmosphere: in Flanders, the crowd is even more enthusiastic than on the road (fuelled by beer, hot dogs and chips/fries). You have to go to one to 'get' it: you pay a ticket fee to get access to the circuit, then you go anywhere you want to spectate, enjoy the food stalls, see the podium and hang out around the pits. Great day out for families and couples. The crowd is frighteningly passionate but very good-natured.

    - Familiar faces / teams: lots of road / mtb riders also appear in 'cross (Boom, Stybar, Chainel, Fontana, Vos, Ferrand-Prévot ...) and you'll recognise many of the teams. On January 1st, you will also probably get to see a few of the new jerseys / bike sponsors two months before they appear on the road. You also get to keep an eye on the ladies and espoir races.

    - Skill and beauty: 'cross is demanding, you need a lot of skills and power, and the TV footage - limited course = planned shots = better quality footage right in the thick of the action, is usually beyond exciting! Has similarities to motocross, rally and skiing.

    - Timeslots: TV-wise, it's all over in an hour and a bit, which means it doesn't hog your whole weekends, and the traditionally draggy Christmas-New Year week is the busiest on the calendar, speeding away those empty, post-turkey blues.

    - Ritual: there is something spiritually fulfilling about sitting down with a (Belgian) beer and watching the 'cross for an hour once or twice a week.

    - Sadism: you get all layered up and cosy in overcoat, fleece jacket, hats and boots, etc (or stay in your armchair). Meanwhile riders wear skinsuits, get covered in mud and crash often and badly. ;)

    - Structure: three excellent calendars - UCI World Cup, GVA Trophy (my favourite), Superprestige Trophy - with familiar annual courses and even monuments: the Koppenburg Cross is one of the most exciting circuit-based events of any sport. I also love Asper-Gavere, the Druivencross and Zolder and a couple of others whose names I can't remember.

    EDIT: be sure to check out a Six Day race too, especially if you enjoyed the Olympic track events (Clancy in the Omnium in particular). Not 'cross but also very cool.
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  • Cycling is a Europe thing only and I only watch from Omloop on cause I am cool and sh*t
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    Havetts

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 12:13 »
    So I saw L'Arri's post and I thought lets Ctrl-F how much times mud was mentioned, to my shock it was only mentioned once.

    (imagine everything with a lot of drama :))

    MUD:


    NIELS ALBERT IN MUD:


    MORE MUD:


    Also nice the great atmosphere at the cyclocross races.
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  • just some guy

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 12:35 »
    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...  Katie flipen Compton   :D

    http://twitter.com/KatieFnCompton
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    cj2002

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 14:50 »
    I was pretty taken by L'Arri's excellent sales pitch, so I will seek it out and see what I think.

    Havs and JSG - yours was the icing on the cake (I think a Mississippi Mud Pie would be appropriate, don't you..!)

    And by the way...

    ...three excellent calendars - UCI World Cup, GVA Trophy (my favourite), Superprestige Trophy...

    Why exactly does Greg van Avermaet get his own trophy?  ;D
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  • ram

    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 14:57 »
    It's the only way he can get his name on a trophy.
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #6 on: September 17, 2012, 15:21 »
    It's the only way he can get his name on a trophy.

    *Badoom-tish*

    He's here all week, folks...  ;D
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #7 on: September 17, 2012, 18:40 »
    CJ, started keeping track of what was going on in CX properly for the first time last year and absolutely loved it.  I found it quite easy to pick up (helped by a few forum friends along the way), and rather than repeating all of what L'arri and Havy said, basically, it rocked  :)   Looking forward to the forthcoming season.  From a British perspective, worth keeping track of Helen Wyman (and there are a few other British women who did quite well last year but whose names escape me...  :( :police: )
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    Anthony Moan

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 20:47 »
    Never saw cyclocross race :(, here there is 3 race only per year, I don t know but people here don t like it, it is almost dead...I was thinking about entering one race for city cup but S1 does not like fat tyres :(
    I would like to try it for sure, at least there is soft mud ::)
    Great posts guys, keep doing it and I would spent life saving just to visit some sorry ass race in Belgium or Holland in sorry ass small town, keep doing it! ;D
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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #9 on: September 17, 2012, 22:03 »
    you pay a ticket fee to get access to the circuit, then you go anywhere you want to spectate...

    Wait, what?

    That would be at least one difference between Euro 'cross and American. Even when I went to the National Championships in 2006 there was no fee to watch the race. Which, if my case, turned out to be quite fortunate. That year nationals were in Providence, Rhode Island, about a two hour drive from my home. When I got there I soon realized that I had forgotten my wallet.  :(

    Luckily, there was no fee for parking, and admission to the event was also free. But it was a long day, and the only way I was able to sustain myself was with frequent visits to the Cliff Bar tent for free samples.  :win
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  • L'arri

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #10 on: September 18, 2012, 06:43 »
    Wait, what?

    That would be at least one difference between Euro 'cross and American. Even when I went to the National Championships in 2006 there was no fee to watch the race. Which, if my case, turned out to be quite fortunate. That year nationals were in Providence, Rhode Island, about a two hour drive from my home. When I got there I soon realized that I had forgotten my wallet.  :(

    Luckily, there was no fee for parking, and admission to the event was also free. But it was a long day, and the only way I was able to sustain myself was with frequent visits to the Cliff Bar tent for free samples.  :win

    Yes, most of the top level events are paid here. It's a flat fee of around €15. That buys you parking, toilets, environmental aftercare as well as keeping these races well supported. It's not the same at club level etc of course.
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  • Dim

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #11 on: September 20, 2012, 13:33 »
    I think Larri summed it up nicely.

    If you cant get to races the coverage is excellent, the circuit courses really lend themselves to tv coverage. Its great to watch, only lasts an hour.

    For me the best thing about CX is just how close the riders are in ability, Albert can have a great weekend, but the following weekend its Nys, or Stybar, theres none, or very little of this team tactic lark that dominates road racing, its every man for himself, flat out for one hour.

    where in uk are you CJ, there are loads of regional cyclocross leagues, there is almost certainly a race near you to go on watch. the crowds will be pretty sparse but it gives a great idea of the amount of effort involved in riding flat out for an hour over grass and mud.

    I actually just want the road season over so the CX season can start in earnest
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #12 on: September 21, 2012, 10:15 »
    where in uk are you CJ, there are loads of regional cyclocross leagues,

    I am in the depressingly mud-free, suburban south west of London. I might have to settle for TV coverage, but that will be fine for me. Who broadcasts it? (I'm hoping optimistically for Eurosport so I can stream it at work!)

    By the way, great work with this section of the forum!
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  • Dim

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #13 on: September 21, 2012, 13:24 »
    I am in the depressingly mud-free, suburban south west of London. I might have to settle for TV coverage, but that will be fine for me. Who broadcasts it? (I'm hoping optimistically for Eurosport so I can stream it at work!)

    By the way, great work with this section of the forum!

    Eurosport, you should be so lucky.. Sporza or NOS, but a fair few of the races have official streams in good quality as well. There will be plenty of options, just no eurosport HD :S
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  • L'arri

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #14 on: September 21, 2012, 17:53 »
    I am in the depressingly mud-free, suburban south west of London. I might have to settle for TV coverage, but that will be fine for me. Who broadcasts it? (I'm hoping optimistically for Eurosport so I can stream it at work!)

    By the way, great work with this section of the forum!

    How it works is that Sporza (Belgian, with the classic Wuyts / Schotte commentary configuration) does the GVA Trophy and the UCI World Cup (NL only). VT4 (Belgian) does the Superprestige Trophy. NOS (Dutch) does some of the one-off Dutch events (which are never as good in my opinion) (NL only) and France-3 (France, FR only) does the French nats (always a great race).

    Don't worry about the language barrier: you'll quickly pick up some of the common Dutch words and you'll find it has a lot of phonetic similarities to English anyway:

    > "Wat is dat?" = "What is that?"
    > "Versnelling" = "Acceleration"
    > "Binnen de bogt" = "Around the corner"
    > "modder en zand" = "mud and sand"
    etc

    Most events take place at either 15:00 or 16:00 CET depending on the daylight, usually (but not always) on Sundays (check the calendar during the week) and broadcasts last only about 90 minutes.

    Broadcasts follow a set formula: pre-race interviews (10 mins), junior + U23 (beloften) + ladies (dames) (10-15 mins), senior (zonder contract) (where applicable) (5 mins), élite (around 1hr), élite podium.

    To my knowledge there are no UK televised 'cross events.

    PM me if you want some details on ways to watch these events online. Otherwise dim may post something in the livestreams thread.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #15 on: September 21, 2012, 19:19 »
    I've asked something like this before in t'other place, but my memory fails me, so I'm going to ask again.  I get that the 3 different competitions obviously have different sponsors/prizes etc which give them their separate names.  My question is, is what are the real differences between the  World Cup, GVA, and Superprestige?  Are they raced on different circuits - i.e. if there is a World Cup race in Koksijde, can there be a race from either of the other two there as well?  Are there certain characteristics of the different competitions that suit certain riders or is it mainly just the conditions that affect - i.e. Pauwels was awesome on the quicker dryer courses at the start of last year, but Nys seems better in the mud...
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  • L'arri

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #16 on: September 21, 2012, 20:17 »
    I've asked something like this before in t'other place, but my memory fails me, so I'm going to ask again.  I get that the 3 different competitions obviously have different sponsors/prizes etc which give them their separate names. My question is, is what are the real differences between the  World Cup, GVA, and Superprestige?  1) Are they raced on different circuits - i.e. 2) if there is a World Cup race in Koksijde, can there be a race from either of the other two there as well?  3) Are there certain characteristics of the different competitions that suit certain riders or is it mainly just the conditions that affect - i.e. Pauwels was awesome on the quicker dryer courses at the start of last year, but Nys seems better in the mud...

    No probs.

    1) Yes. There is no overlap, so....

    2) ... No. However, note that the field in World Cup races is often strikingly different because riders are allocated starts based on UCI regions and selected by their national selectors, even though they still race in their trade team colours and act in much the same way tactically. It's a bit like watching a mini-World Championship with trade team jerseys every few weeks.  ;)

    3) Absolutely, and just like on the road, there is peaking too.

    Nys is excellent in almost all conditions except dry, fast parcours, when he must rely on his experience. He is the definition of a complete rider. However, he does take a little time to get into the swing, usually hitting a purple patch right before Christmas and thereafter he tends to run out of gas just after the Belgian Nats. Despite having one of the best 'cross palmarès ever, he has only ever won the season-ending Worlds once, often for this very reason. He seems to be unable to hold his form longer beyond mid to late January.



    The best heavy mud and sand rider requires a huge engine and for some seasons this has probably been Niels Albert. He peaked too early in 2010-11 and then last year's injury, having seemingly wrecked his year, actually helped him come into his best form much later. Together with the Koksijde sand, he was untouchable at the Worlds, and rightly chose to go for the long one. Albert has been around forever but he is still young and shows no sign of being persuaded onto the road even though he shows some capability there.



    Pauwels is a different prospect. He is not the best climber even though he's super light. He excels on a fast, fairly dry and moderately technical parcours. Last year's weather was generally dry early in the season and he dominated as a result. However, he is not yet in his best years and he will get even better. He lost his brother some years ago when the latter died during a race. Kevin was still a youngster then. Personally, I find him a bit unattractive because he is very quiet, awkward and monosyllabic. Unlike other riders, he appears rarely on the road, probably because he has a motocross background and comes from the pretty but very out-of-the-way village of Wuustwezel near Westmalle. This invisibility makes it tougher to judge his form in late summer. I expect him to dominate this season thanks to Stybar's greater absence, which will make the journos' job harder. ;)



    Stybar has now committed to the road, so we will see a lot less of him this year. He dominated in 2010 and won the Worlds in early 2011. After his first road season last year, however, he returned to 'cross and suffered badly from fatigue and poor form. He did fairly well on faster courses but seemed like a shadow of his former self, with road demands forcing him to lose a lot of the weight that he had hitherto used to his advantage on faster courses.



    Belgian dependables like Rob Peeters and Tom Meeusen can usually be expected to grab a big win. Meanwhile there's also the old guard in the form of Sven Vanthourenhout, Bart Wellens and Klaas Vantornout. 2012-2013 is also the breakout season for younger riders Vincent Bastaens and Joeri Adams. I think U23 World Champ Lars van der Haar also makes his senior debut along with the very dramatic face of Wietse Bosmans but don't expect too much from them in their first tough year. It takes a little while for greenhorn 'crossers to come through.  :D

    Others to look out for: Francis Mourey, soon-to-be teammates John Gadret and Steve Chainel (whose careers began in 'cross), solitary Brit Ian Field and perennial American Jonathan Page who regularly batters Driscoll et al in the World Cup races.

    Among the women, the indisputable queen is Marianneke Vos, especially now that Daphne Van Den Brand has retired. Katie Compton and Hanke Kupfernagel were pretty much the only riders who could challenge but the former was not often present in 2011 and pretty rubbish when she was there (for UCI World Cup events only) and the latter wasn't there at all for reasons that escape me now. No matter, I never get tired of watching Vos' power and impressive humility. ;) It's also nice to watch strong, capable but rather less consistent riders like Sanne Van Paassen, Brits Helen Wyman and Nikki Harris and Sanne Cant. Look out for the brill Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Chainel's wife Lucie Chainel-Lefèvre.

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  • « Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 18:14 by L'arriviste »

    Dim

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #17 on: September 21, 2012, 22:04 »
    Cyclocross is also a unique opportunity to mix two of the best things, women, and mud



    And girls and snow



    More at Girls On Cross Bikes Tumblr
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Everything I need to know about Cyclocross...
    « Reply #18 on: September 23, 2012, 17:25 »
    L'Arri - you are a star. That was some write up. I might have to print it out and have it handy when I'm watching.

    And Dim - needless to say that will be bookmarked for later reference  ;) ;D :-*
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  • ram

    How it works is that Sporza (Belgian, with the classic Wuyts / Schotte commentary configuration) does the GVA Trophy and the UCI World Cup (NL only). VT4 (Belgian) does the Superprestige Trophy. NOS (Dutch) does some of the one-off Dutch events (which are never as good in my opinion) (NL only) and France-3 (France, FR only) does the French nats (always a great race).
    Isn't VT4 the channel that goes softcore by 8pm? I used to be a good boy before they corrupted me.
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  • L'arri

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    Isn't VT4 the channel that goes softcore by 8pm? I used to be a good boy before they corrupted me.

    I'm pleased to say that I have no idea, ram. ;) VT4 apparently prefers to call itself Vier these days.

    It will be broadcasting this weekend's first headline event of the 'cross season, Round 1 of the Superprestige Trophy Series at Ruddervoorde.
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  • ram

    Bummer, and I don't mean that in the 8pm VT4 sense.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Whilst watching the first round of the Superprestige the other day, I was wondering about the role of teams in CX, and the  general make up of the peloton itself.  So my questions are as follows...

    How large is a team on race day?  Are the squad sizes limited - like 9 riders in the Tour etc.?  Does it vary from GvA to World Cup to Superprestige?
    As the racing is so frenetic, and team mates play far less of a role as a domestique, the majority of riders are never likely to be in contention and yet can't earn brownie points as a good helper.  What's in it for them? 
    The  other thing that struck me was that AA Drink sponsor a men's team, yet they have just puled the plug on their women's road team due to various problem's with women's cycling in general.  What's the money like in CX?  It's obviously a hugely popular sport in Belgium and Holland but what's  the prize money like and what is the revenue like in general?

    Off topic, but just noticed looking back through the results that van der Haar (last years under 23 wc?) finished a very creditable 7th.  First 'proper' race with the big boys?  Impressive stuff either way
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Also, how partisan is your average Sunday afternoon CX crowd?  Do fans passionately cheer on one rider over another?  Do Nys fans hate Albert fans who in turn dislike Pauwels fans? 
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  • L'arri

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    Also, how partisan is your average Sunday afternoon CX crowd?  Do fans passionately cheer on one rider over another?  Do Nys fans hate Albert fans who in turn dislike Pauwels fans?

    I got the impression that things cooled down a little after the Albert's Rib incident but it is true that partisanship can be a strong feature of cyclo-cross here in Belgium.

    One feature is the booze. Primus, for example, is pretty lightweight (by Belgian standards anyway) but get enough of it and you can fuel a mudfight.



    I think the main reason for partisanship is the lack of hegemonic team structure in 'cross. It remains essentially a gladiatorial contest between individuals.

    Although most of the top riders join trade teams, it is very uncommon to find them riding as such because the clear differences in their respective levels and specialist skills prevent them from really competing as a contiguous unit.

    Uncommon but not unheard of. One striking example of teamwork which we get to see on a near-weekly basis is that of Klaas Vantornout pacesetting for Pauwels, on the front in the early stages or pushing to fill a gap after one of Pauwel's characteristic bad starts.

    Beyond that, Sven Vantourenhout sometimes rides for Nys whenever he is capable and the Telenet-Fidea guys occasionally form up to close a gap. That's about as far as it goes.

    Finally, the most obvious incidents are related to heckling. In the thrum of a noisy 'cross race, you often can't hear the insults hurled at less favoured and/or foreign riders, but sometimes it's only too clear that something inappropriate has been mouthed:  ;D



    And it's not just Belgium. Who can forget this drubbing incident at the US Nats in 2008?

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  • ram

    Belge Bogans?
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  • Drummer Boy

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    And it's not just Belgium. Who can forget this drubbing incident at the US Nats in 2008?
    Sadly, drunken stupidity knows no borders. But I think scenes like that are pretty much an anomaly over here. That was actually a fairly "personal" incident where relatives of Jonathan Page took issue with the loudmouth troublemaker and things escalated from there. (Those were Richard Sachs bikes on the ground that ended up with some damage as well.)

    But that scene is not typical of the U.S. 'cross. If anything, it seems that much of the appeal fueling 'cross these days in the U.S. is the informal nature of it and an emphasis on fun. The crowds will generally cheer for everyone on the course and the mood tends to be light, if anything. If there are issues and conflicts, it tends to be between the riders themselves and not random fans.

    It's a big country though, and I'm sure different regions have their different dynamics. I've only been to CX races in New England, and nationals once. But the impression I always get is that there really isn't anyone attending these races that isn't directly or indirectly related to the activity. Riders, and friends and family of riders seem to make up the crowd. It's just so completely unknown to the public at large that you're not likely to find too many (if any) random people just showing up. At least that's been my experience, in New England. Even finding out about some of the races can be a challenge in and of itself.


    Not New England pics but...

    Tell me, does this guy look like a fighter?  ;D



    Halloween will likely bring more scenes like this as well. Team Devo!
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  • « Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 15:20 by Drummer Boy »

    L'arri

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    Sadly, drunken stupidity knows no borders. But I think scenes like that are pretty much an anomaly over here. That was actually a fairly "personal" incident where relatives of Jonathan Page took issue with the loudmouth troublemaker and things escalated from there. (Those were Richard Sachs bikes on the ground that ended up with some damage as well.)

    But that scene is not typical of the U.S. 'cross. If anything, it seems that much of the appeal fueling 'cross these days in the U.S. is the informal nature of it and an emphasis on fun. The crowds will generally cheer for everyone on the course and the mood tends to be light, if anything. If there are issues and conflicts, it tends to be between the riders themselves and not random fans.

    It's a big country though, and I'm sure different regions have their different dynamics. I've only been to CX races in New England, and nationals once. But the impression I always get is that there really isn't anyone attending these races that isn't directly or indirectly related to the activity. Riders, and friends and family of riders seem to make up the crowd. It's just so completely unknown to the public at large that you're not likely to find too many (if any) random people just showing up. At least that's been my experience, in New England. Even finding out about some of the races can be a challenge in and of itself.


    Not New England pics but...

    Tell me, does this guy look like a fighter?  ;D



    Halloween will likely bring more scenes like this as well. Team Devo!


    You guys need to take your 'cross more seriously...  O0  ;D

    Yes, I cited that Page-related incident because it was so out of character for the American scene. Just happened somebody had a camera otherwise it probably wouldn't have been remarked on that much.

    Oh and, whatever the waffle, that Bianchi is lush!  :-*
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  • Dim

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    That page fight was highly dissapointing, seen worse than that in tesco over the end of day reduced price donuts
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  • kabloemski

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    "@TourDeJose: This is cyclocross! http://t.co/UhlUIuik"

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  • Hey, Bart! Your epidermis is showing!

     



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