All photos credited to Andy Rogers: http://fameandspear.tumblr.com/
As the final Autumn leaves continue their path from branch to ground, and our noses begin to run on the commute to work, it’s hard not to notice the days getting shorter and the trails getting wetter. Winter is fast approaching, and while many of us are facing the reality that those warm Summer days are but a distant memory, if isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, we reckon it’s quite the opposite.
In terms of racing, cyclocross is still quite new to Australia. In European countries like Belgium, it is not only a well-established sport in its own right, but the pros are treated like superstars – think of it like AFL in Aussie with fans chasing their idols around from bar-to-bar. Instead of ‘Footy Moles’ though, they’re mostly just harassed by drunk old dudes with pipes and gumboots who want a signed fan card.
In case you’re not familiar, cyclocross is essentially a fusion between road racing and mountain biking. It’s also a great excuse to repeatedly plow through mud on your bike, while spectators drink beer and heckle competitors on the most slippery sections on the race course. It originally began as an off-season training sport for road cyclists, with bikes that had slightly wider and knobblier tyres and wide cantilever brakes that could shed off the mud and snow. The sport has also begun to take off in North America, both at an elite level and for those off us who just simply want to ride for the hell of it.
In Australia, CX is beginning to build some momentum, with club-based race series popping up all around the country, and a National circuit that is growing year by year. CX racing is particularly popular because it brings together road cyclists, mountain bikers, commuters, fixie hipsters, lifestyle riders and pretty much anyone who enjoys being on two wheels. Racing aside, to some folks a cyclocross bike is an awesome tool for making all of your local singletrack trails feel new and challenging again, while to others it is the ultimate utility vehicle that can be as much your faithful commuting companion, as a rugged touring bike or as a road training machine.
The Dirty Deeds Cyclocross Series was sprung from the mud of Melbourne’s inner north four years ago as a truly one-of-a-kind event. Much to the surprise of all involved it has become Australia’s biggest cross series with over 200 riders per race day, and many times that number of spectators embracing the spirit of cyclocross. The series came together when a small group of local riders wondered if a cross series was viable in inner Melbourne. It took about five minutes into the first race in 2010 to realise it was.
Dirty Deeds started at Brunswick Cycling Club’s HQ the Harrison Street velodrome, which despite its urban locale, is the spiritual home of CX in Victoria. Each year, one round of the Dirty Deeds is part of the National Cyclocross Series which attracts riders and media from all over the country. While the elite riders are a big part of the race, the real focus is on growing the sport at a proper mud-roots level. Many people have gotten into racing and joined clubs as a result of getting dirty in DDCX, and if you’ve ever witnessed an event yourself you’ll know that they attract all sorts to the start line.
Last year womens’ only races were run for the first time and from the attendance of the pre-season skills sessions this year, the womens’ grade will be a race to reckoned with. The kids races are also a popular mainstay of any race day and add to the family fun factor of Dirty Deeds, which to the organisers is really what it’s all about.
This Friday the 24th of May, will see the Prologue for the 2013 DDCX Series kick off at the infamous Brunswick Velodrome, with competitors racing around the track and inside on the grassy field along a specially designed course with sand pits and barriers to jump. Racing takes place under lights, and with the forecast looking cold, but dry, it’s a perfect opportunity to rug up and come out for a few after-work drinks while watching several hundred idiots cover their bikes (and themselves) in layer upon layer of mud.
There are a handful of different categories, but in terms of bikes it is simply sorted into ‘Cyclocross’ and ‘everything else’. That means you can show up on a 29er, a 26″ dually, a BMX bike, a fixie (with brakes…) or any other weird and wonderful two-wheeled, pedal-powered device you so choose. It has to be said though that the more bizarre the bike and the more heinous your outfit, the bigger the cheers from the sidelines.
The 2013 DDCX Prologue Deets:
Where: Harrison St Velodrome, East Brunswick
When: Friday the 24th of May, From 6pm
Racing time: 7-9pm
Race categories: Kids/Open/CX Men/CX Women
Cost: $10 adults/$5 kids
Entry Details: head to www.DirtyDeedsCX.blogspot.com.au for more info
We’ll be heading along to the prologue on Friday night, as well as the following rounds of the series, so if you see an Enduro jersey at the event, don’t hesitate to come up and shout us a beer. While it’s not necessarily shredding the singletrack that you might normally crave, cyclocross in our eyes is an absolute hoot and well worth getting involved as either a spectator or as a rider.
Bring on Winter!!