Instant Sport, Just Add Gravel!

I totally forgot Cyclocross Worlds was happening in Fayetteville this weekend until two things reminded me–and this video was not one of them:

Though it is worth noting there’s a school of thought in public relations that the best way to promote any cycling-related event is to have someone do trials stuff all over it, because things are always more interesting when someone’s humping them with a bike.

No, the two things that reminded me were: 1) A reader who mentioned it in an email to me; and B) someone on Twitter who posted a long thread about how they’re offended it’s happening in Arkansas. With regard to that second thing, I’m not interested in tedious political debates, but from a purely sporting standpoint I find this attitude disappointing. It wasn’t all that long ago that the idea Cyclocross Worlds in the United States was almost unthinkable, and now here we are fortunate enough to be hosting our second one. So the fact it’s happening this weekend seems like cause for celebration.

Now, again, I’m not looking to start any political bickering. However, let’s just say you are a person who loves cyclocross but objects deeply to some of Arkansas’s legislation, or the Walmart corporation, or wanting an assault rifle to kill 30-50 feral hogs, or whatever else the sorts of people who post Twitter threads don’t like about Arkansas. (I too thought the whole feral hogs thing was funny–until I looked into feral hogs and realized I’d probably want several high-powered rifles and a flamethrower if I lived in a place where they were a problem.) I suppose you could decide that holding Cyclocross Worlds there is to cast pearls before swine–or hogs, as the case may be. Or, you could consider that those who are well have no need of a physician, and that the guiding light of cyclocross coming to Arkansas is like the teacher who eats with publicans and sinners. When it comes to disagreements, the pervasive notion these days seems to be that you should take your ball and go home (to wit: Neil Young and Spotify). However, it’s almost always better to do the opposite and keep playing, even if you do disagree. Maybe the ball goes over a fence, you hop over to get it, and you meet a whole new gang of kids. Oh, sure, there’s a chance you could all be mistaken for feral hogs and get shot, but we can’t all live in constant fear of one another forever, can we?

Having said all that, I’m completely over cyclocross, whether it’s Worlds in Fayetteville or Ironic Singlespeed Worlds in a field in Portland. Why? Because everybody knows the future of competitive cycling is the burgeoning sport of gravel triathlon!

Following on the multi-year rise of gravel racing in the cycling world, our multi-talented siblings over in triathlon now want a piece of the pie. On Wednesday, the American governing body for the sport, USA Triathlon, announced the creation of a new gravel tri series, kicking off this year.

Just don’t bring your fixie!

Unlike traditional gravel racing, without the swim and run bits, gravel tri comes with a set of rules developed by USA Triathlon specifically for the discipline. For the safety of both the athletes and the general public, gravel triathletes will be banned from using time trial bikes and aerobars (which will chuff Geoff Kabush to bits), settling within triathlon an issue that remains contentious in the gravel racing world. Gravel triathletes are also banned from using fixed gear bikes. The rest of the rules and structures mimic regular triathlon.

First I was annoyed they even had to say that. Then I was annoyed they could invent something as absurd as a gravel triathlon yet exclude fixed-gears. But finally I realized this is probably the result of some under-the-table agreement, and we’re mere days away from the announcement of a series of fixed-gear gravel criteriums.

Lastly, earlier these days I subjected both my bamboo bars and my upgraded pedals to the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:

Both were excellent, and flat pedals for mountain biking are winning me over, though getting a singlespeed up the steepest pitches without being able to simply yank up on the pedal is a challenge I’ll have to overcome with improved technique–or, you know walking.

Something else that have won me over are the “Opus” jeans from Indigo:

Do you need expensive cycling-specific jeans just to ride your bike? No. Does resorting to rhetorical questions mean your a lazy writer? Yes. (Rhetorical questions are the clipless pedal of prose.) Still, they’re just the right amount of stretchy, and if you prefer soft and simple to stiff with lots of pockets (like the Oslohs) you’ll probably like these. I’ve been wearing them for days on end since the fall and so far they’re holding up well, though we’ll have to see what the Cambium does to the seat.

Or maybe we won’t. Chances are you’re not interested in the seat of my pants.

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