Written by Craig Randall on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Rob O'Dea
1. Dirt + Speed: It’s no wonder many cyclocross races are given the “gran prix” moniker; these suckers are fast and typically circle a short course. Think of it like a road criterium with less chance for limb-thrashing road rash and a propensity for powerslides.
2. Hand-ups: What makes cyclocross such a different animal is that it’s as much about intensity as it is hijinx. “Hand-ups” come in a few varieties; beer hand-ups are when fans place sudsy beverages in the hands of speeding-by racers. It’s like a road race’s feedzone but with a rock n’ roll twist ‘cause these drinks ain’t for hydration. Another common hand-up is cold hard cash. Want the riders to ‘up the pace and incite some chaos? Extend a $5 bill over the course tape and watch these workingmen earn their keep.
3. The hole shot: because they’re short, cyclocross races typically start in a fury with riders sprinting from a wider start line to narrower single track in an effort to snag the coveted hole. Making the hole shot ever more important is that the bulk of a cyclocross race occurs on a narrow course, impacting your ability to pass. Bury yourself to get the hole shot – it’ll hurt but you’ll have great position and, besides, pain is what beer hand-ups are for (see # 2).
4. Call-ups: Cyclocross racing’s most contested race happens before the start gun even fires. The announcer’s “call-up” effectively determines your start line position. If you’re outside of a 1st-through-3rd row call-up you’ll spend your race yo-yo’ing off the back and fighting for thirtieth place. Secured an early row start? Your race will include a fight for the hole shot and a good chance at stealing the ‘w.’ Call-up position is generally determined by your previous racing success (points) or if you’re just a memorable character. Being weird, or being a local, or being well known because of previous race heroics will definitely help your chances of a stellar call-up. But sometimes announcers are just biased. Deal with it. Or just get faster.