Progession in US Cross?

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Yesterday I was thinking about how much the equipment has advanced in the sport of cyclo-x. Guys are riding nearly the UCI limit of 6.8 kg (14.99lbs) bikes. That is pretty amazing considering the extra weight of just the tires.

Then I started thinking about how much the sport itself has changed, here in the US, and with that change how much more regulation and monitoring has happened from the UCI and USAC. I’m not sure when this new modern era of cross first started here in the US. Maybe somewhere around 2000, when the Nationals were held in Kansas City the first time. I pick 2000, because when the Nationals were held in the Presideo in S.F., the course was super short, maybe less than 4 minutes, so it would have to still be classified as cross of the past.

It is strange to think about how hardly anyone was into enforcing any type of cyclo-x rules until recently, the last few years.

When I won Cyclo-X Nationals in Santa Cruz, Ned broke off the front of his bike in a muddy bog, left it there and ran to the wheel pit without his bike. He just got relegated a couple slots. No one was really too concerned about the real rules of the sport, even at Nationals.

Or look at the Providence RI Elite Nationals the first year in the snow, 2005. I don’t remember exactly how they were lining us up that year, it might have been the first year that they used UCI points. But, they failed to clear the snow off the road that they were using for the start finish stretch. There was a huge crash on the start because the shoveled area was about 8 feet wide. Probably 1/2 the field either fell down or got caught up in it.

I remember getting into a pretty heated argument with Adam Myerson that evening, after the race, in a hotel lobby. I’m not sure if he was the UCI technical guy already then or just part of the organization putting on the race. I couldn’t understand how the whole park that the race was held in was plowed except for the road the race was using. It was incredibly dangerous and unfair to all the participates. It really didn’t go anywhere since it was after the fact.

Anyway, that never could happen anymore, at least I don’t think it could. The sport has matured enough to make sure the courses are UCI legal, which is mostly a good thing, I guess. That being said, there are a lot of rules that are just stupid. Like the tire width rule. They changed a rule that didn’t need to be screwed with. There was nothing the matter with the 35mm width rule. But, no, they had to lower the width to 33mm, with no real explanation. Stupid. And many others. But, that is just the UCI.

So, there are more rules, but more participates, so maybe the rules aren’t scaring anyone off. A lot of the rules that bother me don’t really apply to the average cyclo-x racer, so in that respect, they aren’t rules that hinder the growth of the sport.

Hopefully we’ll figure out how to keep the forward progression of the sport going. I don’t think they are going to do it by awarding more and more UCI races to just about any promoter that pays for the sanction. There need to be less UCI races in the US with more emphasis on each race. At least that is how I’d do it if I were Czar of scheduling. But, that being said, it is really the competitors that drive the growth of the sport. It is an eclectic sport that attracts eclectic people. And that is a good thing, in general, for the health of cyclocross here in the US.

Elite men’s start in Providence in 2005. The clear road was less than 10 feet wide, not even close to the UCI rule.

5 thoughts on “Progession in US Cross?

  1. channel_zero

    I think you are going to get your wish Steve. It appears the UCI gave U.S. promoters a “long leash” with the idea that it would grow the sport. That’s changed recently.

    I would argue most of the growth of competitive ‘cross is happening outside USAC at ACA and OBRA events.

    Remember when mountain bikes had super-slow geometry? Those bikes were fun to consumers. That grew the racing scene. People like riding ‘cross bikes because they are (for now) more upright with gentler geometry than a road bike. Newbies feel like they have better brakes than a road bike too.

  2. channel_zero

    Can you recall how many guys knew that any line outside the cleared lane would put them on the pavement?

  3. e-RICHIE

    there is way too much duplication/overlap at the nationals for much of it to be taken seriously atmo. it is a fun 4-5 days but, since that debacle at providence 1.0 with all the sold out categories and fields that had ambiguous age and ability standards, all natz events have been choking on their own attendance numbers. if it’s so important that we comply with the rest of the world and have the race in january, then the elites should have a separate weekend from all other racers whose dollars and attention spans cannot find an extra five weeks of interest.

  4. Sean YD

    You’re railing a bit on U.S. cyclocross, but it wasn’t even a year ago the Belgians absolutely screwed you over with their lineup procedure at the masters worlds. Every country has its problems when it comes to policing itself.

  5. Nathan Leigh

    If I was the czar, I would divide the country into three (East, Middle, West) and help score and promote a point series for each. The 1st 3 guys on the line at nationals would be the winner of each series, etc, etc. It would allow for the growth of up to three quality events in the USA every weekend, but still allow for reasonable travel to each.


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