Whatever your Motivation, it's tough not to see the Cross season as inspiring. When you arrive at a race, the likelihood that you will be unprepared for the weather is high. But let's not freak out just yet. A brisk breeze and a sprinkle is no reason to become a shut-in. You may find that within a few minutes the sun beams in and warms your soul. If not... You will be better prepared the next time, so just start moving around. If nobody ever froze their ass off slipping out of a cozy sleeping-bag to relieve themselves, they'd never know how cozy they were up to that point. In kind, if nobody ever unplugged form their VR rig to let the pizza guy in -- Then they'd certainly starve. Everything or nearly everything tastes better outdoors, and you can double that in the woods. ...So let's go there.
Generally Cyclists are considered "Badass" if they endure foul weather to ride. I'd second that velominati assessment, so long as the rider is riding electively, and seems to be having fun in their suffrage. Let's not tune into bad energy, but a ride to work in the sleet and snow is cool, even if compulsory, but taking your steed out for a romp in the slush, just because you cannot be held back by waiting for a sunny day, is the meaning behind the mantra.
Defining Cross season as a crisp morning in the middle-west where temperatures can vary 35 degrees from early arrival to mid-race -- This can be tough to modulate, and yet the changing "Cross" season, and autumn leaves burning orange, is punctuated by this modulation.
Mudfest, LoveFest, or Straight-up Shitty outside, we don't necessarily gravitate to crap weather to challenge our inner Belgian, but we seem content to ride over hill and dale, to find a zen-full peace in the crunch and slop of a cross-course. I believe that the fastest way to inspire a kid to ride a bike may be to take them to a Cross race, hand them a Cow Bell, and get them to jeer at and cheer on the riders. It may be madness, but even a kid who doesn't ride often, should request a new bike within a week of this mayhem.
The CX Cup this year was classic, yet dry, cool but sunny, and in the shadow of sparse trees and a formidable engineering HQ which is Trek. The best the race could offer was inspiring triumph and heartbreak. Every ride, and each lap was exciting from Kids to Pros, and I perhaps have not witnessed more heart in any race as the Final Women's UCI CX Race. This was not only thrilling, but genuinely astonishing cycling. The Ladies challenged themselves and the spectators to see an almost team-like camaraderie as each took turns pulling and drafting laps to a crescendo which was the cycling equal to a stubborn Champagne Cork. Energy pent up and fluid spilled forth and frothed at the end to the upset of Ellen Noble, (No. 2) and triumph of Evie Richards the victor.
On the lighter side of Cross are the antics, the cheering, Jeering and of course the Cow Bell. Costumes turn a race into a parade, and even the un-initiated can appreciate a cross course littered with Bananas, Bacon, and Super Heroes such as The Hulk.
Wherever you seek inspiration, it is obvious that the spectacle of a good Cross race will do the trick. Although it may be a bit tepid in a leotard, or Muscle Suit, in general terms the Cross season is the perfect season to wear a costume, and get out there. Fun being the manifest destiny of any costumed crusader. The autumn may lead to the winter of your discontent, but it doesn't need to be that dour, if you can manage a balloon or two, and a Twenty Dollar Costume, over your lycra shorts, then you are well equipped to enjoy yourself at a CX Race. For those without, then make a search for a club locally, and see if you cannot find a Friendly, AKA a Fondo. Many gravel Fondos carry with them a group of like minded Bike Nuts who would be happy to pull you through as long as you show some respect for the mechanics of drafting. We Share CX and Gravel more than we may typically share a race or Club Ride as it seems to be understood that there is a level of silly, which makes it alright to wave your freak flag. It is however still strictly forbidden to not match your seat and Bar wrap, so please respect the art-form.
When you look at the leader board, or the results it may or may not come as a surprise that the top ten are generally Belgian. I do know that for my money, there seems to be a cultural or even genetic advantage to having been raised Belgian when it comes to the skill-set of CX. From any vantage point we can appreciate that a winner is precisely that, and that while the heart and soul of U.S. gross exports may be Software, Fast Food Chains, and Action Movies, The Belgian that we import in exchange is Stroop Waffles and CX Champions
I'm not worried for the future of this apparent trade imbalance just yet, because as climate changes and charm chastens, we may in fact become a bit more Belgian. ...Anyway, of all the costumes and concert -T's created to put your agenda out in front of you, the one that stuck with me the most is linked here in case you want to one-up someone at your next race. Warning: it generally follows that you should have the fortitude and fast to sport a skin-suit so don't rock it unless you can back up the claim. Congratulations to Toon Aerts, who managed to handily sew up the Men's Final by flying over the final ramp like Shawn White in the Half Pipe, Not sure how 40 odd minutes of sprinting affords you the extra spice to pull a table-top, for flair -- But it definitely appears to be in the blood. Buy a Shirt if you have the metal to wear one. HERE
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.