It's no secret. When you step into our shop and peruse our floor models of drop bar bikes (think old ten speed style bars with a modern twist) you'll find a rich supply of cyclocross bikes compared to their droppy bar relatives.
Or maybe when you walk into our shop you won't notice the difference because at first glance a road, cyclocross, gravel and touring bike all look the same to you. No problem. There is almost nothing we love more than the opportunity to tell someone all about cyclocross bikes.
Simply googling "Cyclocross" will yield a full work-day of internet viewing pleasure and I'm not here to re-do everything that's been done.
I'm just going to give enough information to make your mouth water. Get your curiosity spiked. Maybe even inspire you to get in touch with us to ask more questions. You know. Just tease you a little. Those Shift Happens girls. Bunch'o sassy minx!
Before I chat bikes, Let me chat Cyclocross (Psy-clo-cross) AKA CX.
Cyclocross....In point form!
Born in Europe a long time ago
It was a way for pro road cyclists to stay fit in the off season
Fastest growing cycling discipline in North America
Today, the sport of CX is raced on a course that's 3 meters wide and between 2.5-3km long
They are "Off-road" races consisting of grass fields, off-camber corners, run-ups, physical or man-made barriers, mud, lots of mud, sand-pits, a bazillion corners and chicanes, maybe frost, maybe snow, beer gardens, hand-ups, shennanigans and sometimes jumps....sometimes.
Racing format: Mass start and racers will race on the course for a set duration depending on category/level.
Races are usually between 40min-60min long.
Beginner level categories can use mountain bikes or CX bikes.
Most events are family friendly and all ages.
The racing is described as high intensity or full-throttle. Pin-it-to-win-it!
So what's so special about that?
Well, I left out the most unique part. The "Cross" part of Cyclocross means that the race course is guarantee'd to contain a variety of "features" that will force the riders to dismount and run with, or carry their bikes through, over or around an obstacle/feature. This might include, but not limited to; man-made barriers, sand-pits, steep run-ups or slippery off camber corners.
Sound fun? If it doesn't, then I did a terrible job on this blog post. So just trust me. It's sooooo fun.
Okay, So basically it's like an off-road steeple chase with bikes? Fine, then what's a cyclocross bike then? It just looks like a road bike.
I'm glad you asked. Think of it like this.
A Road Bike is like:
Your rich sophisticated uncle that lives in Puerto Rico 9 months out of the year.
A Cyclocross Bike is like:
Your hill-billy uncle that runs an annual demolition derby in a small Alberta town
And for sure you love them both very much. There's no judging here.
The Hillbilly Uncle
A cyclocross bike has some pretty specific differences, but really, these are the only ones you need to care about
Skinny Knobby Tires. Narrow but with some bite. Rawr!
CX gearing that is a little more mountain bike and a little less road.
Nowadays - disc brakes. Though road bikes are also available with disc brakes.
Geometry. This is nit-picky. So imma just say that the geometry is more suited to navigating off-road terrain compared to pure road bike geometry. Don't let that shy you away. A CX bike will do just fine out on the open road too.
What does Devon, AB have to do with all this?
The Town of Devon has played host to annual cyclocross races for a long time. I'm not sure when the first one was held, but we have been hosting and participating in Cyclocross event's locally for over 10 years.
The local cycling club [Devon Bicycle Association] organizes an annual event called The Puncheur CX that we [Shift Happens] help run and sponsor. We've designed courses in both Voyageur park and in the Lions Campground and usually see between 160-200+ participants across multiple categories and ages.
There is even a REAL kids cyclocross race. Complete with kid-sized barriers.
The Town has always been super excellent to deal with and because of our great relationship with the town and their exceptional focus on community, we get to offer some of the best race venues in Alberta.
All the cowbell!
It's not just for racers. The events are great for spectators. Cheering, heckling and cowbells add to the exciting atmosphere and most events have food trucks or beer gardens for your viewing pleasure.
Wanna check out a cyclocross race? Come on down to Devon in October for the Devon Bicycle Association's annual event.
The Puncheur Cyclocross race
When: October 6th.
Where: Voyageur Park, Devon AB.
Racing starts: at 9:30 and goes until 3pm
*wanna figure out how to race? read to the end.
So, now are you thirsty for cyclocross?
Wondering how you get a ride on this party bus?
Of course you are! Here's how to do it.
*you only need to read the rest if you want to know how to get into cyclocross*
Step 1) The Bike.
As a beginner you can use a mountain bike to start. However, if you like the versatility of a Cyclocross bike, head on over to your local bike shop. They'll hook you up with a sweet new ride that will take you on all sorts of adventure. We always have cyclocross bikes in stock. We just love it so much. Come have a look.
Step 2) Learning how to ride Cyclocross.
The best way to do this is to join a local club that offers Cyclocross skill practice. In Devon and Edmonton area, this is NEARLY every club. The Devon Bicycle Association has intro-level cyclocross camp for it's members every year. Joining a club solves another hurdle. To race cyclocross in Alberta, you need to be insured with the Alberta Bicycle Association (ABA). So by joining a club, you'll also be covered under ABA insurance and then you can race in midweek CX races or Race up to TWO Alberta Series CX races before you are required to get a race license.
You can also do some google searching for some Cyclocross Clinics in your area. There are a few clubs that offer weekend clinics to get you going.
Step3) Insurance and Licensing.
I touched on this above. Basically you will need to be an insured rider to participate in most cyclocross related events and if you really end up liking CX racing, then you will need to get yourself a racing license. Again, the best way to get insured and learn is to join a club (Link to List of ABA clubs below). Then get'cher'self a racing license with the ABA and change your life FOREVER! Link below to ABA membership license.
Step 4) The Races.
So you've got a bike, joined a club and now you are ready to test the CX waters! or sandpits...
Midweek CX races. These are super low pressure, super fun "training" races that are offered once a week through the season. Calgary and Edmonton both have a midweek series. It's just a great way to brush up on your skills, get some fitness and get a good feel for what CX racing is all about. For Edmonton's Midweek Series. Check out the event page here.
Alberta CX Series Races. This is Alberta's official CX race series and there are double header races EVERY weekend in September and October around Alberta. As a newbie you'll start in the Citizen/Novice category and you'll race to earn points. When you've earned enough points, you'll get upgraded to the next category. But no pressure. Just go race, Have fun. Get muddy. Drink some post race beer and high-five a bunch of people you don't know, but will get to know very soon. Here's the link to the race Calendar.
Step 5) By this time it's November and CX season is over and you'll be completely hooked. It will be your new favorite sport and you will commit to training for the following season in your off-season. You'll wonder why the season in Alberta is only two months long and like a kid waiting for their 5th birthday, you will count down the days until next CX season.