Marty Cross – An Introduction to the Oddity of Cyclocross

Marty looks good in blue!

What is cyclocross? It is a kooky sport for sure, originating in the early 1900’s in Europe.  Professional road racers would often race each other from one town to another.  The catch was, they were allowed to cut through farmer’s fields, hop fences, and carry their bikes up and over obstacles to shorten the distance they had to ride.  For them it was a way to have fun and stay in shape during the winter months.  When the Frenchmen Octave Lapize won the Tour de France in 1910, he told the media that his amazing fitness was due to cyclocross training in the off-season.    Since then the sport has taken off and blossomed into a whole new way to race a bicycle.

Matthew Tyler aka “The Bearded Knight” demonstrating perfect barrier technique.

Now, in an effort to emulate these old school “field races,” we create short 2.5km courses in fields that utilize sections of grass, mud, and pavement.  Instead of fences, we put up barriers that are low enough to step over, but high enough so that most riders will have to dismount, carry their bicycles over, and then remount at speed.

The races are done on bicycles that look very similar to road bikes, but have wider, knobby tires to grip the grass and slog through the unforgiving mud.  Racers often bring two bikes with them and leave one in the “pit.”  The pit is a place in the middle of the course where a racer can change bikes in case of a mechanical failure.  These races are done by time ranging from 30 minutes to one hour.

Spectators be hecklin’!

Spectators are often encouraged to heckle riders during the race and give out “hand-ups” to riders which may include dollar bills, beers, Mallomars, or just about anything to entice a rider to go faster than the person next to him/her.

Racing in these events is one thing, but being part of the planning, set-up, and tear down is tough, but extremely rewarding when it all comes together.  One of the best parts of Marty Cross 2013 was definitely the Kid’s Race.

We had a blast at Marty Cross this year and worked hard to set up a great course and atmosphere.

Uncle Ben!

Staking, Taping, Getting the van stuck on the hill…

Thanks to all who attended and helped out.  It was great because of you!  You can find more pictures and media from the race on our Facebook page.


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