Stir the cycling cauldron long enough and eventually you'll see it -- a mysterious mist rising off the top, where story-telling meets the bicycle. Over time, this magic can become the spice and color of your cycling adventures both on and off the bike.
Cyclocross is so elemental and exquisite, a kind of punk rock of cycling that makes no sense whatsoever and is perfectly logical all at the same time, held together by a friendly and dedicated community. Take a road bike, swap out slick tires for knobby tires, ride it on a course of dirt, mud, sand, asphalt, stairs, and hurdles that force you to carry your bike nearly as much as you ride it, add in cow-bell ringing fans, plenty of beer, coffee, clam chowder, and nasty weather and you have the perfect recipe for New England cyclocross.
Here in New England our weather has an epic quality all its own, allowing the sport of cyclocross to settle so perfectly in our beautiful corner of the U.S.
Some fans still enjoy channeling that old Belgian and Flemish magic though:
Each day began early in the morning with "amateur" races, and then the pros took the field for UCI Category 1 races (elite professional competitions) later that afternoon. I put "amateurs" in quotes because those racers are plenty serious. But they're having a great time too, totally immersed in bike culture. Here's a nice photo I took of the Category 3 men's field, just before they launched off the start line:
The cyclist in the center with the curly moustache is a great example of a cyclocross racer. I didn't meet him personally, but from the picture alone he appears focused, while radiating an individual-spirit through a unique sense of style that totally works.
A mountain bike has big tires on smaller wheels, flat handlebars, suspension, and a gigantic range of gears. It makes perfect sense to ride it on a dirt path. But a cyclocross bike? Well just kind of.
Things that only kind of make sense but are beautiful anyway = cycling magic!
Right in the middle of Gloucester's cyclocross course is a food and bicycle festival. You can grab a cup of piping-hot chowder, check out the latest in cutting-edge technology at Shimano's sponsor tent...
...and then swap cycling spells with the wheel wizards at Mavic.
|At the start line|
|And they're off!|
|Eventual Day 1 winner Helen Wyman climbs the steps|
|British National Champion Helen Wyman wins|
Day 1 elite men's race:
|Lining up to start|
|Photographers awaiting the finish|
|Jeremy Powers wins|
Day 2 elite women's race:
|Rain at the start|
|Helen Wyman wins again, here being interviewed|
Day 2 elite men's race: