By all accounts, Austin is an active city. Although we may not be a professional sports hub, we have cheered on the Austin Toros, the Round Rock Express, the Texas Stars, the Austin Aztex, the Austin Outlaws and the Lonestar Rollergirls, just to name a few. But what about individual sports? And, what else is out there for kids, apart from soccer and football?
In the late 90s, Austin caught Tour de France fever, as local favorite Lance Armstrong rose to the pinnacle of the cycling world. His fall from grace, after admitting to doping, left a lot of cycling fans without a reason to tune in.
Early last year, USA Cycling announced that the 2015 Cyclo-cross World Championships would be taking place right here in Austin in January. With a robust cycling community and a site which has accommodated tens of thousands of visitors — Zilker Park — it seems that the Cyclo-cross Championships will be a perfect follow up to the X Games, which will happen in Austin next year.
But, before I get ahead of myself, I had two obvious questions: What exactly is cyclo-cross, and how is Austin getting ready to host the national championships of this sport?
What is cyclo-cross?
As you may have already surmised, cyclo-cross, or, as it is sometimes referred to, cyclocross, CX, CCX, cyclo-X or even ‘cross, is a type of bike racing. A cyclo-cross course generally consists of a series of laps across different surfaces, which requires a rider to dismount and carry a bike across various obstacles. Races are generally between 30 minutes and an hour, with the distance dependent on the course’s conditions. Although some suggest that cyclo-cross got its start as a way for traditional road racers to stay fit in the off-season, now racers specialize in this type of cycling.
How is Austin getting ready for the Cyclo-cross Championships?
I first heard about the sport because a friend on Facebook mentioned the Cyclocross Project 2015. Rolando Roman, one of the people who helped Austin land the 2015 National Championships, launched the Project in the summer of 2012 to encourage kids to take up the sport and participate at Nationals. Close to 60 kids ages 4 to 13 currently participate, free of charge, thanks to the project’s sponsors and volunteer coaches.
Rolando is not only a cyclist, but also dad to two children, ages 3 and 1. His oldest child took part in her first race last year and his youngest loves his bikes and helmets. He looks forward to his children growing in the sport as they grow older. “It’s so easy for us parents to give the kids a piece of electronic instead of taking them to the park and let them play outside,” Rolando explained.
Kids cyclo-cross training and races closely mirror what adults do. The Cyclocross Project starts children as young as four on any kind of bike (helmets are required, of course). While adult races vary from half an hour to an hour, the length of kids’ races are determined by age: Under 10s and 15s race for 10-20 minutes, Under 19s 30 minutes and Under 23s last between 45 minutes and an hour.
Although the cyclo-cross season in Texas begins in October, the Cyclocross Project gears up (literally!) in August. Weekly practices take place at Pease Park in Austin and Old Town Elementary in Round Rock, and last 45 minutes. Participants often leave with homework, which is to ride their bikes with their families. Participants can join in at any point in the season.
This weekend, the Cyclocross Project is the beneficiary of proceeds from the Georgetown Cyclocross Festival, which is taking place at the McMaster Athletic Complex. All youth races are free of charge, and you can register online until Thursday at midnight.
To learn more about the Cyclocross Project or to register your child, visit their website or Facebook page. To volunteer, contact Rolando through the Cyclocross Project website.
Photos courtesy of the Cyclocross Project 2015.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 7-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]