Cyclocross Racing Information
Season: Late Fall
Collegiate cyclocross racing is probably the least complicated (compared to other disciplines), since it includes just one event: the race itself. A race lasts between 30-60 minutes, but while this may not seem like a long time compared to say a 60 mile road race, make no mistake, this discipline is not for wimps. It is a mass start race (everyone lines up together for the start), and from the moment the gun sounds your heart will be racing. Some describe it as a steeplechase on bikes, which is accurate since there are numerous obstacles, like sandpits, barriers, 25% gradient climbs, to navigate, that often require quick dismounting, running, and remounting skills, and it is off-road so involves mud and large puddles too. Most people compete on cyclocross specific bikes, which look a bit like road bikes, but with slightly wider knobbly tires, cantilever brakes (so mud doesn't jam up between the wheel and the brake), and the bottom of the frame is higher off the ground (to clear uneven terrain). However, you can try out a race on a mountain bike too. The racing is physically intense, since you can't really draft so it is a bit like a road time trial, but as well as putting out lots of power you also need to be very skilled to navigate the course and (hopefully) pass your opponents. However, a sense of adventure and a willingness to try something new on a bike, are equally important to this discipline.
The New England race season runs between September to December, although the collegiate specific events tend to begin only in late October. Races are a bit more local than in other disciplines, with lots of events in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and more in Vermont, New Hampshire and upstate New York. We normally send a team to collegiate cyclocross nationals, which are held in venues such as Bend, OR, and Madison, WI. Training starts over the summer and we usually have 2-3 cyclocross specific rides a week from September to December. These involve skills sessions, and cyclocross specific fitness workouts, and are posted on the club email list.