It’s shocking to me now, to think about my own introduction to the sport and practice of cyclocross, that it has been not one decade, but many. The stunted, nostalgic part of my brain tells me that little has changed, but my eyes and ears and social media sixth sense say otherwise. The other day, I met coach and all-around cross guru Pete Webber, and he told me a bit about the phenomenal work his crew has been doing with juniors development in Boulder. It’s been many years in the making, but what Pete described was a program which would develop a steady stream of young talent, steeped in fundamentals, discipline, and a real love for the sport. It sounded downright… old fashioned.
These kids are so lucky, I thought. Those who are exposed early to the breadth and depth of any competitive sport are not only the most likely to go the furthest, but also the quickest to gain the wisdom that winning isn’t everything. It seems that those who start out slowly, and are given the opportunity to soak in the context and culture of the sport, whether or not they are amazingly talented athletes, are the folks you’ll find lining the sidelines, helping out at clinics, and leading group rides a few decades later. They understand that the tradition of reciprocity that is so crucial to the proper functioning of so many aspects of competitive cycling. I sometimes fear that we are raising a generation of racers who see the sport as temporal and disposable: equipment that lasts a season or less, training technology that is only good until the latest thing comes along, teams are simply stepping stones to the next one, and ultimately: racing & riding itself often proves of little interest once one reaches the inevitable plateau.
For the last decade or so, I’ve prescribed a mixture of humble pie, practical/cheap equipment, an interest in the sport’s history & culture, pro fandom, and a balance between local and regional racing as a way to avoid burnout, and gently weave cycling into one’s lifestyle, hopefully engendering a lifelong love affair with the sport. I suppose we won’t know for another decade or so if any of this has proven effective, but I’m gonna stick to it.
Back when all of the Tatitos were ruddy-cheeked university students, I’d use Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in an attempt to express a number of things. During the cyclocross season, I’d use it to compare racing on mostly dry, flat, grassy courses to racing on wet, muddy, highly technical ones. It was admittedly a value statement, reflecting my personal bias of course, but time after time, when we’d head out to do something like Jingle Cross, the inevitable response would be something like, “Oh… now I see what you were talking about… this is like an entirely different sport… and I’m terrible at it!”
But framed properly, these failures themselves became the basis for an entirely new outlook on the sport. Suddenly, there were new skills to acquire, new courses to tackle, and interestingly: a much greater connection to and appreciation for, professional racing. The idea that the hobby could continue to a part of one’s life, regardless of geography, age, or mobility is a transformative and powerful one. “I never would have thought *watching* a race could be as fun as racing one!”
It’s an amazing time for cyclocross in the United States. There are 45 days of UCI racing all around the country in 2014. Unfortunately, unless you live in New England, attending these events takes a lot of planning, and a little more money than would one’s usual local Sunday race. And that’s where this year’s Season Pass Promotion comes in. Here’s how it works:
Buy a complete bicycle (or two!) here in Tativille. You may choose from the complete Focus Mares lineup; Ibis’s Hakkalügi, available in either canti or disc formats; or a super rad Pommes Frites Terra, available in either steel or titanium. Prices start at just $1300, and every bike qualifies!
Attend one, or two, or ten races on the USA Cycling Pro CX Calendar.
Take a photo of you and your bike at the race and send it in!
As long as you preregister and don’t DNS, Tativille will pay your reg fee.
And for every race that you enter, Tativille will pay a matching reg fee for a needy YOUNG SHREDDER. (You may also donate your entries to the Young Shredder fund if you’d like, for extra massive karma.)
You’ll also receive mechanical support at any UCI event where the Tativille #hobocycling crew is in attendance. (That includes all of the midwestern events and about six others on both coasts).
At the end of the season, come out to Austin for CX Nationals and your race fees will be covered there, too!