By Brandon Dwight
Wednesday during ’cross season is one of the best days of my week, but this Wednesday was even better.
Throughout every cyclocross season I have been doing the same thing nearly every Wednesday morning for the last thirteen years: I wake up, make some coffee, clean up my cross bike, put on my chamois and head out for the Wednesday Morning Group Cross Ride.
In the dozen or so years I have been partaking in this ritual a lot has changed. For one, most now call the ride “Wednesday Worlds,” and instead of 15 of us showing up there are nearly 80 to 100 riders. Oh, and now I check email after I make coffee, which I don’t think I did thirteen years ago. Come to think of it, I don’t even know if I had a computer back then. Anyway, for all that has changed there is so much that has not.
We still meet at 8:00 am, at the same coffee shop and usually pedal over to the same park. Once we arrive at the park, everyone hangs out for a few minutes, sheds some clothes until someone, usually me, yells out, “Recon lap!” This is when the entire group rides one easy lap to learn what the morning course will be.
After the mellow warm-up lap, everyone adjusts clothing layers. If it’s hot, jackets, vests, glove and leg warmers are flying off. If it’s cold, riders are reaching into packs for thicker gloves, while hopping around in an effort to stay warm. Tire pressures are adjusted and a quick swig from the water bottle is taken before heading to the makeshift start line.
There is no start order, but everything seems to naturally come together. The fast guys and gals go to front, the people trying to hang with the fast guys line up behind them and so on and so forth. No one complains, no one whines. After all it’s just a training ride, right?
Then I yell out, “Five laps! Go!” And, now it’s a race. Five viciously paced laps of all-out attacks, sketchy passes, elbow bumping and smack talking ensue. Sometimes I think these five short laps are harder than hour-long races. [nid:99985]
As I mentioned before I have been doing this ride for more than a decade so by default I have sort of become the ringleader for this ride, but still no one claims ownership of Wednesday Worlds. It just happens. Every season around the first week of September, riders just start showing up at the before-mentioned coffee shop.
For lack of a better analogy, it’s like a disease, which keeps growing. Once the season is on full swing there are nearly 100 riders waiting patiently to throttle themselves every Wednesday morning at 8:00am. It’s a thing of beauty.
Now, the thing which made this day better than other Wednesdays is following the group ride, I rushed home, switched out of my lycra super suit, loaded up the shop truck and rushed over to a local middle school for the annual Middle Cross Bike Festival.
Middle Cross is the brainchild of youth cycling director Mike Eubank and Landon Hilliard of the Boulder Valley School District. The idea behind the program is to use cyclocross as way to show kids, parents and teachers cycling can be a fun and safe sport, which can be held of school grounds. And, it also teaches kids various skills, such as bike handling, proper braking, dismounting and remounting, which can be used while riding on city streets, bike paths and trails.[nid:99983]
Eubank and Hilliard have been working very hard this season to create cyclocross clubs at various middle schools around the county. They have been offering club rides and clinics once a week at each school on a fleet of Redline Conquest Sport and 24-inch cross bikes, which Boulder Cycle Sport helped acquire and build. All of their hard work came together on Wednesday when 80 kids showed up to ride and race in a fun, safe and non-intimidating environment. It was great to see so many kids on cross bikes riding hard and having fun.
As I sat under my tent watching the kids race their hearts out, I got to thinking Middle Cross is not that much different from Wednesday Worlds. It’s just a bunch of people riding bikes, pushing it to the limits of their ability, trying something new and most of all, having fun. [nid:99984]
After Middle Cross, I went home and hunkered down in front of the computer for a while before heading out to the Boulder Junior Cycling season-ending party. At the event I was presented with a Boulder Junior Cycling jersey signed by some of the young ’crossers I have helped out a bit this season! How cool is that!
So, another Wednesday in my cyclocross life has come and gone, but in thirteen years this has been one of the best so far.
Brandon Dwight lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife, Heather, and chocolate lab, Oban. He is part owner of Boulder Cycle Sport and the founder of Doperssuck.com. Sponsors include: Ridley Bicycles, SRAM components, Zipp, Crank Brothers, TRP Brakes, Shimano footwear, Clif Bar and PRO.[nggallery id=17]