I recently asked what people would like to read some short blogs on and some great subject were suggested. I’ll try to get to each on in time. So here are my thoughts on summer CX and its spectator potential:
I’m a cross rider; I’ve dipped my toes into the water (pretty deep) in road and ridden 3 World Championships, I’ve even medalled at nationals, but it just doesn’t hold the same appeal. So on the face of it, I’m all for summer CX. However, riding ‘cross in high temperatures is basically awful. I average a heart rate in the mid-190’s for a cross race….when the temperature is super hot, that’s passing out territory.
In terms of local league racing, I think it’s great. It gets people back on their cx bike, focuses us on skills again, and also provides a nice set of intervals before you start the cx season proper later on. For a pro racer, it’s maybe almost an unwelcome distraction. Our summer is spent building the endurance, strength and skills we need to last a potentially horrid winter and try to put on a show for five months. Taking more time out to race, where someone else generally governs your intervals is kind of sub-optimal when there is little return.
So onto crowd potential. I guess if you put on a summer cx in Belgium, on the beach, you’d have 20,000 people scrambling to pay €20 to watch it. But outside of Belgium, and World Cup/Champs racing, crowds aren’t really taking off. Of course there is a huge chicken and egg situation, but if we can’t get crowds of 5,000 plus for a National Championship in most countries (Excluding participants), then I don’t think the summer cx scene would have any impact on our overall crowds. It’s shame, but I think that’s how it is for now.
If I step away from strictly summer cross, I think there are opportunities for CX to expand further, and allow events to be UCI registered outside of the strict CX calendar dates which seem to be 1 Sept to end of February. If people want to race CX, why can’t we, and why can’t organisers register a UCI event in their summer, like in Australia or NZ? I’d be the first on the plane for a UCI series in the Australian Summer. The UCI points that count per rider are restricted already so it would haven little impact on the world rankings, but certainly encourage globalisation, raise standards of events and riding around the world, and give us pure cx racers a change to do skids and wheelies all year long.