The cyclo-cross is not your father’s bike race. For an hour, cyclists race over open fields, climb up hillsides and scramble up dirt, mud and rocky slopes. It is an aerobic sport that tests the physical condition of the riders.
“One of the guys always talks about the pain cave. So you enter the pain cave and you sit there for an hour,” Travis Gruchow, a cyclo-cross racer, said.
The origins of cyclo-cross can be traced to the early 1900s in Europe. It is typically an autumn and winter sport that riders gravitate to once the road racing season ends. Many riders use their road bikes to navigate the cyclo-cross course.
“You are riding a bike that’s not really meant to be ridden off road,” Joe Vadeboncoeur, a cyclo-cross racer, said. “You start the season with a bike that’s really nice and fancy and shiny and clean and by the end of the season, yeah, it doesn’t work so well.”
Weather is also an integral part of cyclo-cross. The races are held regardless of frigid cold temperatures or snow.
“Weather is part of the race,” Luke Batchelor-Clark, a Madison cyclo-cross race promoter, said.
The Wisconsin Cycling Association conducts a series of cyclo-cross races during the fall and winter. The races are open to children and adults of all ages, men and women. For more information about the cyclo-cross series, visit the Wisconsin Cycling Associations website.