You`ve heard of cyclocross, right? Some have probably seen a growing number of `cross`bikes at their local bike shop and wondered, “Why are there nobby tires on that road bike?”.

We wanted to get some of the fundamentals sorted out for you, so we reached out to John Hauser, Event Chief at The Silver Goose Cyclo-Cross Race based out of Midland, Ontario. We connected with John earlier in September and asked him to share his thoughts and what a beginner could expect on this emerging sport.

What exactly is ‘cyclocross’?

I like how Gunnar Holmgren from the Transitions Lifecare p/b Garneau Easton team puts it. “It’s like a mix between road and mountain biking, but completely different”. Haha. I often describe it to non cyclists as bike riding meets obstacle course racing, Tough Mudder on a bike if you will.  The racing itself takes place on a closed circuit track, 3 meters wide and 2.5 to 3.5km in length. The courses have mixed surfaces (asphalt, grass, sand) and typically there are obstacles that force a racer to carry their bike (stairs, very steep hills, and so on). The races are full on efforts lasting 30 minutes to one hour. It’s a super exciting sport for both participants and spectators. If you like any two-wheeled sport, bicycle based or motorized, I’d recommend checking out a ‘cross’ event.

Who are typical ‘cross riders’? Are they just road cyclists with a high threshold for pain?

In Ontario, the typical ‘cross rider’ is any person who rides or races a bike and is looking to extend their season. Roadies, mountain bikers, track racers, bmx’ers. Whether you prefer shreddin’ the gnar, or an epic century ride on asphalt, ‘cross’ is going to offer you a great riding experience.

How do I know I’m ready to sign up for a cyclocross event?

Well, cross is the perfect opportunity to delay getting on your trainer. Haha. But yeah, if your “’cross curious” head out to a weekly series near you, or even try an Ontario Cup race. The ‘cross community’ is an extremely friendly bunch. It’s a community that loves to ride. No one’s going to be a jerk to you at a cross race, and if they are send me their name and address, haha.

If I was signing up for cyclocross event for the first time, what would surprise me the most?

The amount of fun you’re going to have. The atmosphere at a ‘cross event is a recipe for a hearty belly laugh. You’ll have fellow racers standing on the side lines cheering you on, they might even try to offer you a beer, or bologna on a stick. You’re probably going to hear some brass instrument courtesy of someone on the Lantern Rouge team. You might see someone dressed as your favourite superhero riding. Seriously, it’s a blast.

Where can I ride cyclocross this year in Ontario?

October 21-22,  opens in a new windowThe Silver Goose in Little Lake Park in Midland Ontario. Ha, I wouldn’t be a race organizer if I didn’t plug my own event, right? There are cross events all over Ontario. Ask around your local club, check the  opens in a new windowOntario By Bike event listings, or head over to the  opens in a new windowOntario Cycling Association website for weekly rides or sanctioned events.

Blog Notes:
All photo credits are given to Kevin Morphet, who has stunning galleries of the  opens in a new window2014 opens in a new window2015 and  opens in a new window2016 Silver Goose Cyclo-Cross Races. Also, a big thanks goes out to John Hauser, Event Chief at The Silver Goose Cyclo-Cross Race, for taking the time to chat about the emergence of cyclocross, his background hosting the race and passion for cycling.

Here are some ways to connect with the event: