Yes, it’s true, The Lord did stop CX Nationals from taking place on Sunday because Jesus, and only Jesus, should be riding The One True Cross on a Sunday. But maybe that’s not the only reason the race was stopped? Maybe Cyclocross is, at best, a false-sport whose origins can be traced all the way back to an organized crime syndicate that flourished in pre-industrial Europe, when, like the Dark Ages, anti-innovation, anti-technology and anti-intellectual attitudes dominated culture. Or worse, Cyclocross is a cult with ties to Satanism, Anarchy, and the impending Environmental Apocalypse. Whatever the reason, postponing the race for a day of rest and reflection, an act many are now calling Austin Heritage Tree Foundation…Gate, has inspired millions of Americans to reconsider their personal relationship with Cyclocross, a sport they once thought of as a harmless family fun event in a park, now seems like it might actually be a form of ritualistic erosion (of the mind, body, spirit, and hilltop) masquerading as wholesome competition. With our eyes wide open it’s clear now to The Lord, to the township of Austin, to USA Cycling, and to a growing number of communities all over America just how insidious and nefarious the sport of cross can be: enticing our women, luring our children, tempting our brothers, and all in plain sight, right under our noses! Finally, after decades of unchecked growth, the issue of whether Cross is right for America has finally made its way into the national discourse.
Like the plague, handbags for men, and Peugeots, Cyclocross was invented in Europe. Apparently one day in March, in the town of Luik, in the year 1907, a group of bored and misguided road cyclists—Pierre, Raoul, Henri, Jacque, Big Tony and Martin—elected to turn an otherwise lawful road race into an act of terrorism. Citing church steeples as landmarks, they decided that their race on that fateful day would be run from one village to the next using any means necessary; meaning they could cut through farmer’s fields (trespassing), hop over fences (breaking and entering), climb over walls (vandalism) take shortcuts (reckless endangerment), basically doing whatever it took to get there first. It turns out that trashing the village and destroying personal property was not only a lot of fun but the forced running, jumping, and portaging promoted better blood flow, keeping their typically frozen feet warm. This was a welcome and unexpected surprise during a period of time when shoemakers and cobblers refused to either invent or work with GORE-TEX®, Silver Tech™, Thinsulate™, Neoprene, PrimaLoft®, etc.
In spite of the fact that their farms, fields, and parks nay livelihoodwas now scarred by a barbaric and senseless network of ruts, errant mud, and exposed roots, a situation the villagers instinctivelyknew was environmentally unsustainable, they refused to complain or confront the outlaw steeplechasers for fear of retribution, or worse, for fear of death. Left unchecked, this type of race has become codified over the decades into the insidious and destructive cyclocross racing format that we know today.
Maybe at the time it made sense then, who knows? Now, 100 years later, in America is cyclocross still relevant? Is it acceptable? Is this what we want for our kids, for our future? And what about waterproof-breathable fully insulated footwear, don’t we have that now?
Once all of the feather boas, the rubber horse masks, and the sequined gold tights clear out, after the House of Pain and Sir Mix-a-lot Party packs-up, when all the beer cans and cardboard cut-out Tim Johnson heads have been collected, and the artisanal Waxed Cotton Canvas shoulder bags and Handbuilt Bikes have ridden home for the night, it’s then, in the early morning light following one of these tournaments, that the real nature of cyclocross is revealed. And it’s ugly. A kind of ugly the that now the citizens of Austin know all too well.
At any rate, we here at Manual for Speed are ready to ask some difficult questions:
- Is it finally time to put an end to what is clearly a medieval sport?
- What about a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to fund a Public Service Announcement Campaign that will promote awareness and an honest dialogue about the issues at hand?
- What if we could harness some of the more positive aspects of cyclocross like partying, wearing drag, public intoxication, cool jumps, hand-ups, cornering skills and sprinting, and refocus it all toward a form of bicycling that’s more socially and environmentally acceptable?
- What if Cyclocross bikes used wider tires with more aggressive tread and the races where held on established trails outside of the city—in the mountains perhaps?
- What if cyclocross courses focused on circular network of paved roads, and the amount of tread on the tires was reduced significantly?