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Home > Magazine > Mt-Bike > Needed: a CX version of XC!

Needed: a CX version of XC!
September 06, 2012

I know that I've ranted about this endlessly before, but it keeps popping up for me. Besides, I think this tack is SLIGHTLY different than usual.

It's getting to be the XC training time of year! I'm getting psyched and really enjoying getting outside and doing a wide variety of action. Summer seems more bike specific. Late summer/autumn opens the variety floodgates.

One thing is that I start doing some CX.

Cyclocross is booming. It's spectator friendly. It's very skill-diverse and skill-oriented. In the mid-levels it's not very techy or pricey. (I finish midpack on my '82 touring bike.)

Does XC have a comparable?

Sprints? No way. Nordix? (Or whatever it's called.) Nope -- getting there, but still too simplistic.

Could a true XC comparable to CX be created?


Would anything be wrong with it?

I can't see what!

Would it be a good idea?

It seems like it would have the same appeal as CX. It would be a riot, as far as I'm concerned. I sure do it. And the influence of wax, grind, flex, flyweight stuff would diminish for the Everyman Racer. (Elites would still rock it out, sure, just as they do in CX.)

So let's get some tricky, ski-handling courses built spaghetti-like into small park settings where spectators can see most everything.

What sparked this rant is that tonight after our weekly club CX race I talked to a national-level CXer who moved here to MI from frontrange CO. He's wondering what it will be like with more snow in town for a change. He said he's looking forward to getting into ski-skating. Does he know that it's the equivalent to road riding? Sure, while he's a beginner his handling skills will be ever-so-slightly tested. He'll mostly be just learning how to ski. But he won't experience ANYTHING like his beloved CX in this whole region even when he pops up to the top level which he'll quickly do. I mentioned that some of us locals have built a highly technical, banked-turn, bermshot classic course in some nearby woods. I think the term 'classic' threw him off as being 'unracy' and his appreciation of the difference between a (boring) golf course skate trail and a designed-for-flow and handling CX-type classic trail just isn't there. I hope he also loves mellow terrain road riding, coz that's the skiing he'll get if he sticks with the groomers around here. Now, sometimes when our fun trail gets packed in enough we skate-blast it and it's a riot that way, too. Local "skate racer" types don't use it, either way. ...They might scratch their bases. As dyed-in-wool skate-racers they don't even WANT to play on a technically challenging course -- heartrate can't be controlled steadily enough or something. But the problem isn't skating per se. It's the wide, boring trails that wide Bullies require and the mindset of the folks who make skate trails who assume that narrow is bad and that technical isn't very appealing to many. I think more of the public -- even the XC ski public -- would be into it than they think. I also know there are some superfun skate trails out there beyond MI (MI also has some tucked away). I think it's likely that many of those rely on quick screamer hills and wide fast turns for their thrills rather than a CX type vibe. CX doesn't need a lot of terrain to push skills to their limits. Riders and spectators alike have fun with it. Spectators even come out to watch CX *practice* which I haven't noticed at XC trails lately.

(((UPDATE 2015: I built a new CX course in downtown Lansing that is such a thrill to ride. Then in the winter I used it, and added more features to it, as a XC ski course! And it was even more fun to ski! Best anywhere! I tried promoting it. I got a few other gungho skiers to give it a real try and they loved it. But no 'real' Nordic dudes or CX dudes gave it a try. Sigh. I've also laid out a flow-type ski trail in Okemos that has quite a bit of CX and MTB feel. A few have skied that also, and liked it, but, again, though I promote it I haven't gotten any of the established XCers or CXers to try it.)))

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