Cyclocross 101: Why you should try a Cross on the Rock event!
Cyclocross [a.k.a. Cross or CX] season is here! You either know about this sport - in which case, see you at the races - or you should know about this sport!
We recently spoke to race organizer, Norm Thibault, to get the low down on the growing phenomenon that is Cross, and our Island's very own race series - Cross on the Rock.
Russ Hay's: Hi Norm! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview and for being such a great supporter of cycling on the Island - or on “the Rock” as you would say!
As you enter into your 13th season of Cross on the Rock (COTR13), I know there are many riders out there who are chomping at the bit to get back into the action, but there are also a tonne of riders out there who are racing their first season; some maybe haven’t even heard about cyclocross before. For people like this, in a nutshell, what is Cross?
Norm Thibault: Cyclocross is a race that involves being on and off your bike over a variety of terrain. It is by time and not by distance. Everyone finishes on the same lap, so you are not too far behind at any point in the race!
RH: What was your inspiration to start the series?
NT: Ferries were getting expensive to travel to Vancouver or to Seattle and life was getting complicated so taking 3 days to do a 1-hour race was not working anymore.
RH: COTR is known for being a grassroots race series - what makes people love COTR so much?
NT: A Cross on the Rock race is like a homecoming for people that love bikes. The series goes up and down the Island, so people from all over travel a bit and get to see different parts of this amazing place that we live. The races stay true to the core. We don't babysit. We make them tough...but racers from 8 to 80 years old can finish them. We have preached INCLUSIVITY from the start. If you have "attitude" Cross on the Rock is not the place for you to be.
RH: What makes this series so family friendly?
NT: Everyone can race. From a 1-year-old in the 'Lil Nutcase race, graduating up to the Mazda Zoom Zoom races, to youth categories, all the way up to Supermasters. There is a level of racing for everyone, and you can make it as competitive as you possibly want. From National Champions to absolute beginners racing the same course on the same day.
RH: What kind of bike do you need?
NT: You can ride any type of bike that you think will make it around the course. Typically this is a cyclocross/gravel/adventure bike, but we have a lot of first timers and intermediates on mountain bikes. We don't care and are not snobbish about what you ride.
RH: What are three things that someone new to CX needs to know?
NT: Watch skills videos and practice your bike skills.
Don't worry about what place you are.Don't worry about what bike you have.
RH: How do people find out more and sign up?
NT: Between our Web site at www.crossontherock.com and our Facebook page you can stay on top of most information. You can also sign up to get our newsletter which gets e-mailed out about 12X from August to the end of November.
RH: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
NT: Cyclocross is the easiest, least risky and in our case friendliest way to get into racing. Come check it out. If you know people that ride bikes, chances are you might know someone that races our series so come watch them. It is an amazing workout...at times you will hate it...an hour after the finish you can't wait until the next race.
RH: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Norm! We're looking forward to seeing you and everyone else at the events this year!
As Norm says, you can do these events on pretty much any bike that can survive the course but if you want to see some super CX friendly bikes click here.
See you out on the course!
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Read on to access pictures from this year's ride.