By Tyler Wren
Leaves changing, back to school, world series, end-of-season break- these are some of the things most people think about when autumn comes around. But not me- even after a long season of traveling and racing my bike on the road, my mind inevitably turns to cyclocross in the fall.
One thng to realize about domestic professional cycling is that hardly any of us, riders and staff alike, are in this endeavor for the money. We are professional athletes, but our salaries correlate more with teachers than NBA or MLB players. In fact, even when we win a race, we retain only a portion of the prize after we split the money with our teammates and staff. For me, what is most valuable is the lifestyle this profession offers me- being fit, being outdoors, seeing the world, camaraderie, and constantly challenging myself. Nowhere is the essence of this true love for the sport of cycling more apparent to me than in the discipline of cyclocross.
The forecast last December in Bend Oregon for the cyclocross national championships was high 40's and light rain- seemingly a cause for gloom. But the predicted weather that day excited me- it was going to be a great day to be outside racing. I knew that, despite the violent hourlong effort, my whole body would be cold and my hands nearly inoperable by the end of the race, but also that the course would be wet & muddy, and that the fans would not be deterred.
Hundreds of competitors and spectators braved the grim elements that day, all of us getting cold and dirty. There is a shared element of perseverance between us all when the suffering extends beyond the physical exertion to the weather conditions too. All of the (underpaid) top ‘cross racers are approachable, easy-going guys off the bike. Spend a few minutes chatting with any of them and you'll realize that they are no different than the hundreds of masters and amateur competitors attending the championships who skipped work, left home and spent significant amounts of time and money preparing for this miserably beautiful day in the rain- they just love racing their ‘cross bikes.
I share that tender sentiment- thinking about ‘cross tire selection and pressure, gearing, course conditions, etc. gets me so pumped to be on my bike during the time of the year when otherwise it can be difficult. I hope this journal will convince you to give ‘cross a try if you haven't already. The Salt Lake area is a fantastic hub for a solid cx race schedule.
Stay fit, be safe, and have fun! Thanks for reading,