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Bikers: get muddy and wet

Belgian Pastimes
By ADAM MYERSON  |  October 14, 2009


PHOTO: Natalia McKittrick/Pedal Power Photography

If someone asked you what the most popular winter sport in Belgium was, what would you guess? What do you do in a land where there are no real mountains, it rains constantly but never snows or freezes, and most of the countryside is covered in cow fields and cobblestones?

Well, if you're Belgian, you race bicycles through those wet, muddy fields all winter, it turns out. You race cyclo-cross.

What cross-country running is for marathoning, cyclo-cross is for road cycling. Imagine road bikes with skinny, knobby tires, with racers doing hot laps in the grass, negotiating mud, off-camber turns, carriage roads, and steeplechase-style dismounts that force participants to run with their bicycles. The New England fall is a lot like the Belgian winter, and nowhere is cyclo-cross more popular in the United States than here.

You have two great opportunities to see -- and participate in -- this spectacle in Maine. New this season is a local race on the Eastern Prom organized by Casco Bay Sports on October 17, with racing starting at 9 am and continuing through the early afternoon. The following weekend, October 24-25, there's an international class double-header I'm helping sponsor, when the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series visits Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, with racing pretty much throughout both full days.

  Topics: This Just In , Sports, Cycling
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