Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Official: I am a Cyclocross Mom!

This morning, our 14-year-old competed in his first cyclocross race: joining about 800 racers in the Nittany Lion Cyclocross in Trexlertown, PA.  (Pictured above, his legs after the race) We'd never heard of this rigorous sport, and neither had he, until last year, when G. met his freshman study hall teacher, an avid bike racer. Cyclocross, or CX, is a form of bike racing.  The season runs from September to January. And so now, in addition to being an orchestra mom, a soccer mom and a baseball mom, I get to be a cyclocross mom.

The timed race (his was 40 minutes; I cannot imagine!) consists of many laps of a mile-or-so course. This course must have been set up in a former cow pasture because mixed in with the smell of mud was the strong odor of cow manure. This is an endurance sport; cyclists must navigate hills, mud, obstacles, mud, sharp turns and did I mention mud. In fact, at one point, the announcer said the sport is about "blood, mud and beer." It didn't help that this corner of Pennsylvania has been enduring flooding rains. Many older cyclists grabbed a beer (which started being sold slightly before 11 a.m.) when their races were through. Hugely impressive was the race for men ages 60 plus. Spectators were ringing cowbells to cheer on the racers. The fact cyclocross started about 100 years ago in Belgium explains the beer and the cowbells.

While the lightweight cyclocross bikes, which use mountain bike breaks and knobby tires, can run into the thousands, our son cobbled together his by modifying a used bike he bought. We all had such a fun morning; his godmother and her six-year-old stopped by and we also cheered on his high school teacher, who was racing in the 35-plus men's elite. The friendly vibe of the cyclocross racers reminded my husband, a former cross country runner, of how road runners were when the sport first took off in the 1970s.

Oh, the places our children take us!


  1. HOW FUN! So are you traveling to PA for all these races? This looks like something my hubby would go gaga for! Me- not so much, but watching if fun if you don't have clean up afterward!

  2. @Sarah: The races are all over the midAtlantic. This weekend it's in Baltimore, but it's his birthday weekend so we will skip that one. Then, onto suburban Philadelphia.
    @Dwija: Yes, it was fun

    And ladies: They had a "Bike shower" for the bikes and access to real showers for the racers. Not sure if that will be the case in other venues. Trexlertown is one of the premier cycling centers in the US. (home to a velodrome and Rodale Press, which publishes Prevention, Bicycling magazine and many other health-related pubs. The Rodales were very generous in donating land, athletic facilities etc.)