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.