Cross Nationals in January Sucks

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I was thinking about writing a post about how inconvenient it is that cyclocross Nationals are in January, then I saw a video that Bill Marshall posted on Facebook, in which Adam Craig states exactly the same opinion, so I decided to 2nd his opinion.

Adam says it, and I agree completely, cyclocross in the United States is mainly a participatory sport. We have more cyclocross racers in our country than the rest of the world combined*. And that being said, I don’t think that moving Nationals forward a month to mid-January, from before Christmas, sits well with many of us. We participate in cross because we love it and it is fun.

It is a hassle trying to schedule training through the holidays for many cyclist. Nationals is the focal point of the year for cyclocross and training for Nationals through the holidays makes cross less fun. Plus, if you stay race fit through the middle of January when do you get time off?

Adam says the current schedule benefits a dozen or so guys. I think less. I think our best riders would like to race Nationals earlier in the season and then have a month and a half to prepare properly for the World Championships. They can do this by going over to Europe and racing through the holidays there, going somewhere warm and train, whatever.

Just take Katie Compton’s situation. She is basing her season in Europe until Nationals, then doing the trans Atlantic hop over to Boulder for one race and then has to head back to Europe. Jonathan Page did that same schedule many times over the years. Just ask them about how they feel about Nationals in January.

We’re not Europe. Our cross is homegrown and still growing. Let’s do everything we can to encourage that trend. Making the season more manageable for the masses is a good start. USAC should just move cyclocross Nationals back to its original date, the 2nd or 3rd weekend in December. Then the other 99% + of the participates can enjoy their holidays with their families and then do a little cross country skiing or whatever they want for the short off season.

*stat made up by me, but I’m sticking with it until proven incorrect.

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31 thoughts on “Cross Nationals in January Sucks

  1. touriste-routier

    Is the problem really that CX is now ending in January for most due to nationals, or is it that the season is too long because we begin this “winter” sport in the US in September, making the season too long if you follow the UCI calendar?

    I think we need to accept, that regardless of when you hold nationals, only a handful of people (in each category) are going to be contenders.

    So is it really the holidays that are interfering with the masses or is it burn-out?

  2. mike crum

    just my opinion, but i wouldnt write or complain or voice an opinion on this… i would thank the race director for all the troubles putting on a race, not bitching cause its not when you want thankful guys put on races…. dont ever complain on the dates of these races..if this race is in feb., go, dont go, but dont complain..i know this is your opinion, but …….

  3. devin

    My daughter has two more races until her calendar falls quite before heading to Boulder,, the only good thing for the college racer is that they don’t have to miss a bunch of school.. but yes hold off till mid Jan is a crock,, just one more thing that is wrong with the system,,

  4. e-RICHIE

    Folks with no UCI points should not be in the Elite events atmo. Oh, and yeah – the move to January was stupid according to my opinion.

  5. Mike Krum

    Start your own blog/site to discuss your opinions. No one wants to read them here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comment from you that hasn’t made me want to punch you in the face.

  6. Calvin Jones

    Good points of discussion here. Locally in MN, there is a lot of competition between promoters for weekends. The CX races are great, you rarely need police, you usually don’t need to shut down roads, no one gets hit by cars, all that is great for promoters. Here, the season was extended into December, which in this climate is dangerous. I am not implying people get hurt, but a trudging-through-the-snow-epic-race is, in my mind, boring. That’s what fat bikes do, CX should have some speed. The extended season is also harder in many areas on the races, which, remember, depend largely upon volunteers to set up.

  7. john

    In my new home on the Western slopes of Co it seems like a great majority of the participants at our X events are just out there having a good time and that there is little training or concern about scheduling. I think they are happy to have something to do on their bikes regardless of the time of year. Personally I find it difficult to maintain quality training this time of year and I am not a much of a fan of ” real cross” conditions either.

  8. Bernd Faust

    Steve you are 100% correct. It is just logic to have the nationals before das Christkind kommt, or as they say here, before Santa Claus shows up sliding thru the chimney…
    and always remember: Life is to short to drink cheap beer.
    Mit freundlichen Gruessen,

  9. Robo


    Your point is probably valid for people at your level and maybe a few wrungs below. But your argument breaks down when you start to talk about US CX being “homegrown and still growing” and making it “more manageable for the masses”. I definitely include myself in the “masses”, and I have ZERO interest in CX Nationals. Most of us are weekend warriors who simply enjoy the friendly competition, camaraderie and culture of the local “homegrown” scene.

    The sport is wise to cater to the local racer on a budget (i.e. the masses) to help keep the “participatory” rate high. They shouldn’t cater to the Elite racer and his/her fickle training regimen.

  10. Steve Tilford Post author

    Robo-That is my point. The race shouldn’t cater to the few Elite racers, but to the masses. The race would be much more attractive and convenient to the other categories if the race was held in December. Many places in the country, the climate isn’t conducive for cross racing after Christmas.

    And, I would be you would be surprised about your interest in Cyclocross Nationals if you attended the event. It is something not to be missed. There is the same camaraderie and culture as local race, only the excitement and energy level is multiplied. You don’t have to race the event to enjoy it.

  11. kris operson

    Steve. great post the national is January has harmed the scene here in Michigan. Very few races after the 2nd week of December have left many of us pulling the plug b4 Nationals thanks for the post

  12. Randy

    Move it back to December. There is no advantage to pro or amateur riders. Pro riders can go to Europe and get the experience they need during Christmas and January. For amateurs, the US weather is much more severe than Europe in December and January, and races are generally farther apart. I would like to participate in nationals next year (new age group for me), and the thought of training through a Nebraska winter to maintain fitness is not something I look forward to.

  13. Chris Newell

    Here in the Mid Atlantic CX starts the weekend after Labor day and usually in 80 degree sunny weather. By the end of November there are much smaller fields, but focused CX racers are still going strong. I think we are seeing the growth of the sport along with athletes specializing in the discipline similar to Europe. It is hard for MTB racers who start racing in March and do not take a break after Nationals in July ; and hard for Road racers who jump right in after Nationals in September. I don’t necessarily think it is bad that athletes focus on CX, and it is probably the only way we are going to maintain competitive athletes at the World Cup level. There has to be a choice to race CX as a primary discipline, and a 5 month season really isn’t too long. It seems like part of the development process as CX emerges from an “off season” discipline to its own sport. It can bring about new sponsors and support, but it definitely will take some time to get used to for season long competitors.

  14. Robo

    Okay, we’re on the same page regarding whom they should target. And you are correct that I would probably enjoy the spectacle/experience of the event. But my broader point was only that most weekend warriors aren’t going to spend the money to travel to attend or participate in a national event regardless of when it is held (well, maybe if it is within a few hours drive). Therefore there should not be an emphasis on a national event, but rather they should deploy more resources to the local/regional level to get (and keep) people involved in the sport.

  15. channel_zero

    When are you guys going to figure out that USACDF/UCI is not interested in grass roots participation?
    They are barely interested in ‘cross other than they make money on fees.

    Stop feeding the beast!

  16. J. C.

    As a pro road and CX racer (although one who is not applying to go to worlds … not that I would even have a shot at selection) I wholeheartedly agree with this. It’s difficult for me to try and peak for CX nationals and then be ready to race again by late February or early March. I’m lucky enough to live in a region that will have some limited racing through Mid-December but I honestly don’t see why nationals can’t be as early as the first weekend in December like it is in Canada. Road Nationals happen mid-season as do Track Nationals and many of the various Mountain Bike Nationals.

    I personally am additionally lucky to be in a position on my road team to be able to negotiate my contract to the point that I’m not expected to perform on the road before Redlands in early April and can usually end my road season in early August however many other riders who do this cross over between disciplines are not so lucky.

  17. Ken

    “I have no original thoughts or creative ideas. I can only wait until someone expresses their ideas so I can immediately find fault with them.”

    – Mike Crum

  18. R Ford

    As a Canadian CX racer, even Canadian Nationals in early December gets pretty late for a lot of participants (other than those who live on the West Coast – Vancouver/Victoria, BC with moderated climates) as the weather/daylight deteriorates quickly in early November in most parts of Canada.

    For example, Alberta Provincials were run on the first weekend of November. That weekend (and the weekend prior) had crazy weather – +20C and dry on the Saturday and -5C w/ snow on the Sunday. Fun racing conditions but still 30 days away from Nationals. Factor in the loss of daylight, snowstorms and dropping temperatures and if you don’t live in Lotus Land (BC) it gets pretty tough pretty quick to stay in race shape. There is no post-Nationals racing unless you’re flying to Portland (or deeper in the US or EUR).

    If you win the Maple Leaf jersey – need to get out of country in order to show it off. Would be more interesting to have Nationals in October and at least give the winners some in-country exposure.

  19. Brad

    Steve is right on. Here are some other thoughts:
    For Juniors, Nationals is a big deal. It is the culmination of the season for them, and a chance to see where they really stand nation-wide. They also get to meet and form friendships with kids across the country who have similar interests. Then they keep in touch via social media. It is a wonderful experience that could be more inclusive if the event were to be moved back to mid December.
    For many Juniors, the January date forces them to decide between nationals and other winter sports. It also limits their down-time if they also race on the road or mountain bike.
    Junior coaches have the unenviable job of trying to keep the kids in shape during a month-long period of inclement weather and no races.

    Juniors are the future of this sport. We need to keep them smiling, interested, and motivated. The January date is more likely to contribute to burn-out.

    Lets move Nationals back to December!

  20. Landon

    The last 2 years I raced at Nationals in January. Last year I was only able to train outside, in Iowa, a couple of times in Dec. Rest of the time I was on the trainer. That’s to long and it’s not the best way to spend the Holidays when I’d rather be with the family. I agree with Craig and Steve on this one. Move it back to Dec!
    PS, CX in August is great.

  21. carlos flanders

    In fairness to USAC, the decision to move to January was based on a survey of all USAC racers. I was astonished that the majority preferred January, but that’s what the masses wanted (according to USAC anyway). Not much of a fan of USAC, riders are a revenue stream, but they did step up and back CX worlds when it look like Louisville would lose it, and they are sponsoring the US Pro CX with significant money.

  22. Ben

    Carlos, I would like to see that data and how it was proposed in the survey (the actual question/wording). Guessing it wasn’t as straight forward as “Do you want Cross Nationals in Mid-January or Mid-December” … Would also like to see ‘voter turnout’.. Assuming very low.

  23. Daryl Price

    I love Adam Craig, his honesty and skills are amazing. A well balanced approach to life should be taught to all Jr. racers, just leave out the Whisky and Beer, that is for us grown-ups.


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