Getting hooked on cyclocross

Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-5

(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Seeing people get hooked on a new type of cycling is one of the things that keeps cycling industry veterans going. And for some reason, cyclocross is especially good at reeling people in: Maybe it’s the challenging courses; the relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere; the support of family, friends and complete strangers; the mud, or all of the above.

Our cyclocross coverage is made
possible by Sellwood Cycle Repair.

This past weekend at the sixth stop of the Cross Crusade series, I got to see a friend experience ‘cross for the first time. Joe H. had never even ridden a cyclocross bike until last week; but after a friend and riding buddy of his starting racing this year, Joe started to get ‘cross curious. When I realized he was weary of investing in a new bike, I offered up an extra one I just happened to have sitting in my shed. (Tip: Eliminating excuses is the best way to convert friends into racing or riding.)

With a bike to ride, all Joe needed was a bit of practice. So last week I invited him out to Overlook Park in north Portland to go over some basic cyclocross skills and get comfortable on the bike. I had a hunch Joe would be a solid cyclocross racer because he’s a great athlete (played some college football) and he’s raised three boys on bikes. Towing an energetic boy who’s constantly moving around on a trail-a-bike that’s tugging at your seatpost is perfect training for staying upright and riding smooth — both of which are essential skills for cyclocross.

As we talked about the race, Joe downplayed it. “I don’t know,” he’d say sheepishly, “I just want to finish.” He was understandably a bit nervous about embarking on a new sport. But come race-day, he started smiling as soon as he put on his new team kit and he never stopped. And it turns out, he’s great at cyclocross! He finished very strong and I have a hunch he’ll race again soon.

Here are a few more photos of Joe in action, followed by a few other scenes from the Washington County Fairgrounds on Sunday…

Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-6

Cross with Joe

Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-9

Joe’s cleat wasn’t tight enough and it came off inside the pedal!
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-11

Joe (center) and his new Grouptrail teammates Justin Yuen (L) and Brandon Jennings.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-10

Family support always feels good.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-3

This guy is getting heckled while he races on a tandem loaded with bag of sand on the rear rack.
Tough crowd!
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-4

OBRA official Dave Roth requires this big chair in his contract.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-12

This sport has a bright future.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-13

Team Slow cheerleader Chris “Fool” McCraw.

Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-14

Women’s field is ready to go!
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-15

Haley Guettler, daughter of River City Bicycles owner David Guettler, got a pre-race “Happy Birthday to you” serenade.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-18

This guy couldn’t make it to Bend for the costume
race last weekend, but he still wanted to dress up.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-21

Ryan Weaver shakin’ booty to pump up the women’s field.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-22

“Who you callin’ sock monkey?!”.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-30

The beer garden looked more like a dog park.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-26

Suffer face from Mielle Blomberg.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-28

I think the skirt is some sort of anti-mud measure.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-31

Peter Koonce is training his daughter in the fine art of cowbell use.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-34

And then there’s cowbell professional John Howe.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-33

Madison’s chili fries were a huge hit.
Cross Crusade Wash Co Fairgrounds-35

Donuts make great racing fuel apparently.

The Cross Crusade continues this Sunday with a stop at Portland International Raceway. It will be a great event for the whole family and it’s just a few miles north of downtown Portland (just past Kenton off Denver Ave.)

— 2013 cyclocross season coverage on BikePortland is sponsored by Sellwood Cycle Repair (7953 SE 13th Ave). Drop by the shop for their great selection of Kona bikes and trusted cyclocross service.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Jason H
Jason H
10 years ago

Congrats to Joe, and great placing! It was my first (and definitely not last) CX race too, awesome fun!

Steve Young has a Posse
Steve Young has a Posse
10 years ago

I’d like to thank Molly from PBS for that stale donut. Spent the rest of the race sticking to my bars.

10 years ago

It’s interesting how often people combine the words “wary” and “leery” to make “weary”, a word that means something totally other than the context it’s used in these cases. Aside, love the fruitloop donut shot.

10 years ago

The skirt is part of her Mennonite beliefs.

10 years ago

Wait until we get him on a fun course (ie. some elevation change!)!!!!

10 years ago

The dogs were the cleanest critters there. Love the sock monkey sweater!

10 years ago

Great Article, Jonathan. You really captured how fun cx racing really is!

matt f
matt f
10 years ago

wow that picture where his cleat is still stuck in the pedal it looks like the heads of the cleat screws got sheared right off…never seen that before

10 years ago
Reply to  matt f

My guess is that they have fallen into the pedal a little bit (as they’re loose). The heads of the screws should be facing the pedal (as they were on the bottom of the shoes), so I be they’re still on there. Just looks like they came unscrewed.

10 years ago

Wow, those kits are a total copy of the Half Fast Velo black kits. Guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

10 years ago
Reply to  pdxcommuter

Because they are blue and orange? Here are the originals: