Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A History Lesson

Last night's discussion of the impending imposition of the UCI rules for all but the under 5-year-old cyclocross categories by the 2011 season had some riders upset. What will the Cricket do with his large stash of 35 mm tires? Can Colin put drop bars on his scooter? But none were more immediately affected by the coming changes than the Secretary, whose dedication to the fixed wheel transcends disciplines and, along with the ever-present wool socks, makes him a perennial fan favourite. With the news that all racers will require two - count 'em, two - functioning brakes, the Secretary is seriously considering a full season boycott. Although his minute-taking duties have long since been overshadowed by other, more pressing functions, this would be a monumental loss to our burgeoning scene. Also, this aggression will not stand, and so I offer the following in his defence.

From the desk of the FGBC Historical Society (a fraternal society, in the honourable tradition) comes this link. Back in the day, when men were men and cyclocross was apparently way harder than it is now (hard to believe, I know), all cross bikes were fixed. The author of the article, Eugene Christophe, was perhaps the winningest French 'crosser of the last century. Since I cannot put it more eloquently than he put it himself, I will simply reproduce his flawless words of wisdom:

"The freewheel is not recommended, if only for positioning of the pedals when one wishes to remount. What I have just said looks like a detail, however, it is a detail of this type that I owe my win over Tribouillard, in the 1911 French cyclocross championship. My redoubtable and valiant adversary, who made light of me in training, was remounting at the same time as me, at the top of a steep climb; he was on my wheel. I heard him grumble; I risked a look behind me and saw that he was losing contact with me while trying to get into his pedals; I seized the opportunity to increase my effort and lead; I kept them through the end of the race."

For the sake of tradition, for the sake of the sport itself, let us all unite in solidarity with the Secretary and proclaim that the fixed wheel is as much a part of cyclocross racing as a long run through a bramble thicket, or a runup from the bottom of a sand quarry. Vive la Tradition!


Anonymous said...

You kids have to start speaking up when these crazy ass rules start floating in. I end up chatting with the dictators and it seems like I'm alone on most of these issues.

My stance is this...
1-increase fees at a reasonable level in response to inflation.
2-leave the rest of the shit alone and let the racers race.

I asked Colin if I should take the road position when it was posted and he told me they would eat me alive with bureaucracy. I only wanted to do it because we all know in north America where we live cross is a mtb driven sport.

Dallas "Ruling is like mudding when drywalling. The more you fuddle around with the initial work the worse it gets." Sigurdur

The Dark Lord said...

The only problem is that is not being exactly what we are. We will show up and race if they allow us to have good times. If not, we'll just leave and do our own thing. We'll see where this heads. But we are with you in worrying that we might be getting unnecessarily over zealous with rules for cx. It seems a bit as if we're scrambling to try and fix something that ain't broken.

the secretary said...

That's right. I'm outraged... and humbled at such a show of support. Wool socks are sure to be controlled next.
The Secretary

PaddyH said...

I heard bikes would eventually be phased out, apparently the uci thinks they may be too dangerous.

enjoy your 60 plus a lap season fellas.

The Viking said...

You know, I have been watching how the MCA has evolved over the last couple of years. I race XC way more than cross and a few years back they really mandated a couple of things. I did not like the changes at first and was kind of like why standardize everything, we should be doing what is best for our members. THe problem with that was the fact we were seeing declining numbers (XC). XC was up this year for racers and the end result is a good thing.

As far as cross goes, well I agree that the "A" category should be cross bikes only. Then "B" falling in line with the timeline they have set. I think the best thing they could do would be to have an "open" category as well which allows people to race whatever they bring.

It is the job of the MCA to comply with the CCA and therefore the UCI. MOst of which is crap. I agree with rules to a point to level the playing field , but if someone wants to race a fixed gear one brake cross bike and it does not endanger others then I say go for it. It usually means that you are tough as nails and can handle a bike better than most anyway.

I agree, give it time and see where is goes. Hopefully they will do a open cat for those who want to race whatever so the numbers don't diminish. Cross has grown so much, it would be a shame for the enforcing of the rules that were in place already to scare off a bunch of members.

Olli said...

MTBs and short races on somewhat technical courses? Short track MTB?

From organizers point of view...if someone gets hurt at a race, crap hits the fan, someone wants to take a closer look at how the event was organized and it appears that safety related UCI/CCA/MCA rules were not followed, it might be pretty bad scenario. This is far fetched, but knowing how some people react to smaller "issues", I'm not surprised at all that people want to cover their arses.

I'm very much against the only 'cross bikes in A race rule. MTB with skinny tires would be a good rule in my humble opinion. It's not that long time ago when flat bars were allowed even in world cup.

I don't think that I would notice even if someone would ride fixie MTB in my races.

The Viking said...

I am not sure what you mean by your statement Olli. Is it directed to the fact that I have only had time to race at BHP and provincials the last couple of years?

As for non technical courses, I was only away from Falcon the last 2 years due to injury timing. I almost cut my finger off the night before Falcon 2 years ago and this year there was no way my back would have handled it. I was massively upset at the change to the venue for Provincials this year as Falcon is my absolute favorite place to ride. Hal, Tomek and I (among others) had some real good ideas for what is going to work out there just not this year. I trust Hal's judgement on this.

Luc said...

His suggestion of fixed gear is not a good idea. Darryl is crazy.

his closing statement hits the mark though...

"Here, I shall answer that you preach to the choir. For a long time I have known that the general public's interest in cyclocross will attract more audience than the fifty passers-by and curious who attend our starts and finishes, that amateurs will definitely wish to participate in this easy and quite variable sport. The public will begin following the competitors; it will realize that the race is engaging and eventful, they will have a good time; the time will fly past. It is impossible that it will not develop a taste for it; it will follow other races. And, as well as people who like like to sometimes leave the road for quieter and less dusty tracks, also the amateur cyclist, enticed by cyclocross, will no longer content himself with riding up and down the monotonous and trafficky road; he will ride through the thicket as easily as the pedestrian, he will learn to handle his bike and he will see that he can pass untroubled everywhere a pedestrian ventures. He will understand that a bike should not necessarily follow the road as a train follows the railway. His admiration and love for the bicycle as a mode of locomotion, can only increase following such experiments."

ride whatever you have

The Viking said...

That was awesome Luc. And I do agree in a perfect world we could all just show up on whatever bike we have, fixie, SS, fat tires, skinny tires and just kick the crap out of each other for the appropriate amount of time. Then drink beer, lots of beer.

Problem solved.

It's hard when the racers don't want change or feel like it is not needed but the governing body decides against the racers wishes. Or is it? Do the majority of cross racers not want the changes? If that is the case then the best way to voice your displeasure with the changes is to not show up to the MCA sanctioned events. The only way they will get it is if the numbers drop a bunch for cross events. Or show up intentionally on an "illegal bike" and have them not allow you to race. I am all for change as I deal with it daily at work, but is change for the sake of change the right thing? I am with Dallas on this, let the racers race. We need numbers not politics.

Olli said...

I didn't refer to MTB side of things at all. More technical 'cross courses and MTBs on those courses would make the race into a short track MTB, not 'cross. Or maybe not.

The Dark Lord said...

Olli is right. The focus should be on the courses. If cx courses are truly cx courses, then all the discussion about equipment in many respects becomes a non-issue. If a cx course is a real cx course, you won't want to ride an mtb, just as you won't want to ride a road bike.

That's part of what makes me a little nervous about this recent rules discussion. They all focus on the participants and determining who/what should or should not be allowed to participate in a cx race. I think we should focus instead on putting on good cx races. The rest will take care of itself. At the very least, let's not rush into following all the UCI stuff to the letter. To take just one example, in the US the new tyre width rule applies only to UCI 1 and 2 races, not to the local series, etc. When we start awarding UCI points at MB cx races, then we can start worrying about appropriate tyre width.

Notice I said when. Not if. The Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross. A UCI 2 event. Someday.

WV: wityer

The Viking said...

Got it Olli. My bad. And you are totally right. Any of the true cx courses I have seen, you want a cross bike for.