By Katie Macarelli
Coming up on my 3rd season of Cyclo-cross, I can safely say there is wisdom that comes from doing things the wrong way. In cross, this wisdom can come quite quickly. Say, as you careen into a barrier at 10 miles an hour without really knowing how to successfully handle said barrier in a decent fashion.
This was the year I decided I would actually apply the wisdom gained and DO something about my bad-habits. This led me to seek out and meet Paul McCarthy, owner and designer of CrossPropz, portable cross barriers. http://www.crosspropz.com/site/
Katie's barriers before Cross Propz
Much like me, Paul's inspiration for Cross Propz began with botching a barrier.
"A while back in Boulder Colorado, I was attending a Cyclo-cross clinic put on by Boulder Cycle Sport at a local park. There was a good turnout and Brandon Dwight brought some help with him to teach this informal Cyclo-cross training session. We started out riding across a field practicing dismounting and remounting our bikes. We started at a slow pace and gradually picked up speed. Now it was time to try dismounts with barriers. Some pvc barriers were set up and we rode in circles practicing dismounts and getting over the barriers.
At one point I managed to crash into one of the barriers. I put my bike down and walked back and started to re-assemble the barrier when a friendly voice said "I’ll do that, … you just practice." Although it was a nice gesture, by none other than Greg Keller of Mud and Cowbells, it made me think 'Why should anyone have to stop their session to re-assemble a barrier. After all it's practice, they’re gonna get hit?' So that’s how it started."
I've recently had the opportunity to use Cross Propz on several occasions--most notably at Pete Webber's (of BCS) Cx camp up at Valmont. Kristen Weber easily led us to a grassy field, with a few of these bags slung over her shoulder. Granted, she's Kristen Weber, but it still looked manageable to mere mortals. The CrossPropz practically jump out of the bags and sprung into action in about 5 seconds.
Katie's barriers after Cross Propz
With Kristen Weber with Cross Propz at camp.
They are indeed everything the website claims.* Cross Propz are portable, light-weight, collapsible and sturdy. So in other words, none of characteristics my own home-made barriers have. See picture below:
*And they are UCI standard height. Also not what mine are.
If you are looking to shave off some seconds per lap, try CrossPropz. And say "hello" to Paul when you see him at the races--he's everywhere and knows everyone. Paul also runs a free Monday night cx practice open to anyone. It moves around each week to practice different course conditions. I can vouch that it's a fun, helpful group of all abilities. If you come, you might even be able to get Paul to tell you about the time he auditioned to be a Solid Gold dancer in his youth. I kid you not. You can contact him through his website for details.
(Paul at a Monday night practice in Golden. Surveying the scene.)