Inaugural Guest Post !
Well, and it's an exciting day here at Spokes(wo)man HQ, as we welcome our first guest blogger.
Kathryn is a Sydney based nutritionist and writer who lives in Sydney’s inner west and you can read her wonderfully helpful and practical blog here; http://www.kathrynelliott.com.au/about/
Over the past few years Kathryn's life has changed considerably as she has had to come to grips with vestibular migraines, a type of migraine which cause dizziness instead of headaches. In my opinion this is her excuse for staying at home and watching AN INORDINATE AMOUNT of cycling on TV.
I am pleased to see she has wholeheartedly adopted the more liberal standards of my blog and has sworn in the opening sentence, something she has never done in 8+ years on her beautifully curated blog...
Do you ever watch Cyclocross? I fucking love Cyclocross. It is the perfect spectator sport. HUGELY exciting; it's all over in about an hour; the spectators get to drink loads of beer, eat chips and ring cow bells; it involves loads of mud, ridiculous feats and really tough cyclists. What more could you want from a sport?
My cyclocross watching started last year. Having withdrawal pains from the end of the road season, I thought I'd watch a couple of 'cross (that's what we who watch Cyclocross call it) races and was hooked. It is, like all cycling, a ridiculous sport. They cycle over deep mud, thick mud, mud so glutinous they can barely move their bikes, as well as snow, sand, grass and other surfaces, having to regularly jump off their bikes to sprint up steps, muddy hills and over barriers.
[Spokes(wo)man apologises, but you'll have to click on the link, I cannot embed this video for some reason]
Both the mens' and womens' races are fantastic. Exciting, often nail-biting and I'm usually shouting at the TV by the end of the race.
The mens' sport is seeing a changing of the guard - with cyclocross god Sven Nys retiring this year and other brilliant riders like Lars Boom and Zdenek Stybar having moved over to successful road racing careers. The big story of the last two seasons have been Wout Van Aert and the ridiculously fresh-faced Matheiu Van Der Poel (did I mention almost everyone has a brilliant name too). These two are still under 23 and last year had to fight to be allowed in the men's world championships (and not the under 23 world championship) and then Van Der Poel went on to win the race and be crowned world champion. This year Wout Van Aert. the other, only slightly less fresh-faced youngster has dominated the season, taking out a cracking world championship.
In the womens' sport each year you have the battle between the cyclocross specialists, like Sanne Cant and the ludicrously all-terrain talented cyclists like Marianne Vos (who's won the thing seven times) and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. Last year Ferrand-Prevot took the title, while this year Dutch woman Thalita de Jong took home the rainbow jersey.
My favourite cyclists are Sanne Cant, as she's a demon on the bike, aggressive, fearless and focused and yet she so obviously hates all the pre- and post-race face, constantly scowling at the cameras, being monosyllabic in interviews and coming across as a surly teenager whose been forced to stand there by some over-bearing parent.
In the men's races I'm hooked on Dutchman Lars van der Haar. He started out his athletic career as a gymnast and then switched to cyclocross after injury. And you can see this in the strength and agility he shows when he sprints through the pits, grabs the new (clean) bike from his team, leaps back on the bike and then sprints out of the pits, without losing a second. Plus he's completely fearless on the steep downhills, where I know that I would be completely fear-FULL.
The season is pretty much over now, but the world championship Cyclocross races can be watched on the UCI website TV channel. They also have highlights of the races, the under 23 races, interviews and lots of mud splattered photos.