Setting the Hook at the 2014 Cyclocross Scuffle in Elgin

While this is a gallery showcasing the 2014 Cyclocross Scuffle in Elgin, Texas, it’s also a tale of what I believe is one of the best cross courses of the season thus far. Let me preface this by saying most courses in the Austin area are jokingly called “grass crits.” That means, a lot of straight ways, usually 4 – 6, which gives a lot of riders who might not have bike control the upper hand over those who aren’t in prime fitness coming off road season.

As someone who doesn’t race road, but rides a lot of trails on his cross bike, I hate these courses. Even with recent weight loss, I still huff and puff on all the straight aways and tear apart the technical “features.” Meanwhile, it’s the opposite for the fellas who raced road all season and didn’t touch their cross bike all summer…

That said, it’s intimidating for a lot of people to enter cross season with courses like that. Or at least that’s my interpretation from talking to first timers. Most people buy a cross bike to ride in the woods, or do races like Beat the Clock’s Urbocross, which are primarily almost all on singletrack.

Now, yesterday’s race was atypical for the Austin area. When I saw the course map, I couldn’t believe they packed such a long course into such a small area. You could literally see everything from registration. There were seas of orange ribbons, tracing paths between pecan trees, over ditches and creating elegant, off-camber switchbacks. After one pre-ride and I was beyond stoked!

We lined up – well, I lined up in the very back – and raced. Within the first lap, it was apparent that most of the field was in for a shock. The lines were everywhere, people were going off course and all the while, I just fought my way to the front, finishing top 10 in the 3/4s after starting back in the 40’s. In fact, everyone who I ride cross bikes with on trails did really well…

I was in heaven, as were my fellow racers who felt at home in the woods on their cross bikes but what about the new racers? After watching the Cat 1, 2 and pros tear the course apart – Tristan (guy in the 787 kit on the Cannondale) was in prime form, lapping the field almost twice! – we watched the 4/5s line up. All I could hear were people in both shock and awe at the course design. Some of which were very stoked and others looked a bit shell shocked.

All I know is when my intern, Andre got in the zone, he was hooked.

A text message later that afternoon followed, stating “DUDE! Cross is the best!” – the hook was set.

  • Bat City Cycling

    So stoked you liked the course! We have some old school ‘cross racers who are all about the tech-gnar. That, and we ride Brushy Creek a ton (the best kept secret in Austin MTB).

    • John Watson

      I’ve never had that much on a course here in Texas. THANK YOU!

      • Bat City Cycling

        I’ll have to show you our little gem in NW ATX and share a post shred bourbon some time. Email me any time ‘[email protected]

        • Dustin Barrientes

          This little gem in a public spot out in the open or hidden?

          • Bat City Cycling

            Its public land. Guerilla built. Easy to get to yet hard to find. The city has sanctioned it and it will become official in the next year.

  • Leslie

    Truth. The only reason I placed fourth behind those ladies is because I was able to use what technical skills I have to overtake it. I’m not the fastest, but riding my CX bike at Walnut Creek helps a ton.

  • maaaattthompson

    Wish I could’ve made it to the race yesterday. It looked so rad. Glad to see this one in the mix.

  • Jason Whitson

    Wasn’t a huge fan of cross prior to this race. Love it now. Great job.

  • Trevor H

    That Cannondale is so rad. I’d love to know where it was drilled and if there were any issues getting it dialed in for Di2.. Sweet photos John!

  • Tyler Shannon

    Every time I see those Team Yacht Club skinsuits or kits, I like them more. The best design in the field.

  • Chrue

    that picture with the reynolds rim is incredible! focus is spot on, supersmooth bokeh…good job!

  • Jimmy

    Oh shit, no, a Riff Raff cross bike. I don’t even know what to feel.