An autumn day at a cyclo-cross race is just how life ought to roll every day.
Kids range free together on bike or foot in open spaces while parents catch up with friends. Brats and bacon sizzle on grills. Grown men grin from ear to ear as they teeter and sweep downhill on tiny pedal-less bikes, straining quad muscles to keep their legs off the ground. And yes, racing for all ages happens too throughout the morning and afternoon.
Youngsters compete in junior age groups for 20 to 30 minutes. Adults race for 40 to 60 minutes, also in age groups or by experience level or bike type. Little ones participate too. A squadron of these pre-j’s cruises along a short section of the course usually around lunch time, handlebar streamers glinting in the sun.
For the most part adults and kids racing cyclo-cross bikes trace laps on the same closed loop of about three kilometers. They traverse dirt and mud, grass, pavement and sand. Sometimes they’ll jump off their bikes and carry or push them to get over obstacles like low barriers or steep hills.
When Kristal Boni from Colorado tackled her first ‘cross race, nine-month-old son Nick was on hand to watch. Now 12, Nick as well as eight-year-old daughter Cate and husband Carl compete in separate fields.
Because they race at different times during the day, the Bonis help each other by swapping advice about tricky parts of the course. Later, back at home, “We get to relive the day in the evening,” Kristal Boni says. They might compare lap times. Cate might mention a new friend’s name. Nick might dish about the skills he’s improved since the prior week.
There’s always a lot to talk about because so much happens during a day built around cyclo-cross goodness.