When the temperatures start dropping in September and October, it's not football that Kevin Kane is thinking about. It's mud-splattered bikes and racing kits. Cowbells. Suffering
"Fall is cyclocross," Kane, 22, said.
September is upon us. It's almost time for 'cross.
Though the cyclocross season doesn't technically start until Sept. 7 for the professionals, according to the USA Cycling calendar, Boulder riders got a chance to ride some preseason 'cross in August at two new events hosted by Without Limits.
On Tuesday, riders rode relay-style during the first-ever Relay Sixty event. The mid-evening August heat wasn't representative of what most of 'cross season will feel like — cold, snowy, wet or some mix of all three — but the 100 or so riders who turned out didn't mind sweating.
For Kane, who's a senior at the University of Colorado, cyclocross adds an element of fun to winters in Boulder.
"The temperature starts to go down," he said. "It makes winters bearable because you've got the weekend racing to look forward to."
According to USA Cycling, cyclocross participation has more than tripled since 2005.
The Shimano CYCLO X Series, formerly the Boulder Cyclocross Series, has grown between 15 nd 20 percent each year since 2010, according to Without Limits co-owner Lance Panigutti. That series starts Sept. 15 and runs through December, stopping at almost every city or town within Boulder County. This year's Boulder Cup, organized by DBC Events, is Oct. 13 at Valmont Bike Park.
"It's the perfect storm," Panigutti said. "Triathlon season ends. Road season ends. Mountain bike season ends. Everyone's super-fit and the weather's perfect, so what do you do?"
This season is especially memorable because Boulder will host the USA Cycling cyclocross national championships at Valmont Bike Park Jan. 8-12, 2014.
That means Boulder riders want to do especially well and represent the city at nationals this year. Many riders wanted to get an early jump on the season, which helped attendance numbers at Relay Sixty, Panigutti said.
"There's definitely a lot more people putting a focus on (nationals) and putting an earlier focus on it," he said. "If this was last year, we'd have 50 people out here. Instead we have 100 getting ready for the season."
For Kane, nationals are a chance to show that Boulder is truly a cyclocross town and that Valmont Bike Park is a great venue.
"They've had a couple seasons to get Valmont ready for an event like that, so it's nice that they're going to have the event here so that Boulder can prove we're ready," Kane said. "It's nice to show off the new facility."
Boulder rider Allen Krughoff, who chose to race the relay race solo and finished third in the A wave, said it doesn't truly feel like 'cross season until there's more of a chill in the air. Riding in August is fun, but it's when the temperatures drop and the course gets messy that it's finally cyclocross season.
"The first time you see frost in the morning it's like, 'OK it's here,'" Krughoff said.
Contact Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or email@example.com