Cyclocross Nationals Versus the Umbrella Drink

I started this debate on Twitter yesterday and I can’t help but open it up here.

Cyclocross Nationals is in Wisconsin this year. In January. Yes, you read that right – Wisconsin in January. (Average low temperature in January? 8 degrees. Average snowfall 10.1 inches.)

I’m into epic awesome hard shit and everything,  but damn that sounds cold. And the Sicilian has lobbied hard for a beach vacation getaway in place of shelling out to go race bikes (at the back of the pack) in the fucking North American tundra. I have to say, his arguments sound better and better.

This is the exchange that went down between Gary Fisher, USACycling and I:

GF: I did the CX nats in Wi in 1979, 8″ of snow the night before, are you OR folks wimps or Americans?

USACycling: Great chance to show the rest of the world how tough American ‘cross racers are! #PartyintheSnow at #CXnats

HS: I think I showed the world my “toughness” when I lost two toenails to frostbite at Nats in Bend 2009. #notawesome [For the record, it was 4 degrees that morning.]

GF: ok, you are in the toughness club, nuf said…


Various other Twitter voices added to the discussion, bribing with the promise of frozen volleyball courts (??) or reasoning that it’s no worse than Belgian winter. (Average low temperature in Brussels is 34 degrees, no snownfall info available on – going to go ahead and say that Madison January trumps Belgium handily…).

It’s pretty much guaranteed that it’s going to be ass cold, lots of fun, and memorably challenging. But for $1500-1750 (two tickets, bike fees, hotel fees) there is a reasonable argument in favor of the tropical alternative. Especially given the fact that I’ll be getting mowed down by a bunch of age-group crushers.

Is the beer that good in Wisconsin?
Should I do it for the cheese curds?

Who are you and why the hell are you (or aren’t you) going to 2012 Cyclocross Nationals in Madison?



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  1. Go! Madison is a fantastic cycling town. The natives there will show you a fantastic time. The beer is that good. Madison’s also a foodie town, so it is worth going just to eat. It is even worth going there for the raspberry scones at Lazy Jane’s.

  2. Elite CX 1/2 and Pro/Elite MTB racer. Not going. I live in So Cal and get tissue death in my foot when it’s 55F out. I’m not even remotely prepared or geared for cross racing (or any racing) in WI in January. Saving my dough on that one for sure.

    That being said, MTB is my focus and I’ll be in base anyway, so a 40 minute cross race in the frozen tundra isn’t going to be on the program.

    Also – have you considered SSCX Worlds next month in San Francisco instead? Closer, warmer, and lots better beer.

    • Hey Allison,
      You’re smart! :)
      I’ve been down to SF for the Grand Prix down there for the past two years. So amazing and fun. Would love to make SSCX worlds, but I’m going to Japan to do a few races there instead… on assignment for Peloton Magazine.

  3. How is your knee doing?

    • Elaine,
      Thanks for asking! It’s very race-able and still healing slowly. I don’t quite have full range of motion back (without pain) and it gets sore when I have to do silly things like run up sand hills or navigate mud, but I’m very close to 100%. Thankfully, my fitness is also rolling back into some kind of form, too!

  4. Doesn’t Wisconsin have beaches?

    Seriously 4 degrees??? Our thermometers dont even work at that temperature!!! The grease on my chain would be frozen solid!

  5. Wisconsin?! Wow, now that is hardcore. It isn’t always that cold up here in the winter, but it can be.

    And yes, there is excellent beer here in the upper Midwest, my personal favorite is Summit Brewing Co. from Saint Paul, MN. Madison is a food and cycling town, I’ve no doubt that you won’t lack for things to do. ^_^ Shoot me a message if you need help figuring out where to stay, etc. I’ve got friends in Madison.

  6. Amanda Gilchrist

    Swift, I have been to Madison in January. It’s fucking cold as shit. Don’t do it. Listen to the Sicilian and drink frou frou cocktails on a warm beach somewhere, preferably where they don’t speak English.

  7. I’ll be going, but I live in Chicago. So Madison is a short drive away. Fortunately, almost all of our end of season races are cold and snowy in these parts, so it’s no big deal. I will say this: if you like racing in the mud, racing in the snow is just as much fun. I was surprised at how well I did in the snow.

    And not to boast, but the Midwest, particularly the Chicago CX scene is pretty rad. We’ll all be up there cheering and racing, giving beer and bacon hand ups, so you should give it a try! Just bring those little toe-heater packets. And maybe race in those SiDi Diablos…

  8. Karen kenlan

    Not going. Not gonna do it. I recommend a tropical vacation instead. You don’t have to always suffer to have fun …

  9. SusanGuest

    Eight degrees doesn’t seem that cold to me

    Minus 13, yup that seems cold

  10. Not Madison, its damn cold, I am from tropics so sun is natural appeal for me. I checked the temp today, its -2 & will dip a more, so I personally feel Madison a no-no.

  11. I’m putting on a race in Bellingham, WA on Jan. 14th. I intentionally avoided the Natz weekend in case I wanted to go. I don’t mind racing in cold & snow (I was there in Bend ’09 when you froze your feet – yes, it was cold in the mornings!), but the cost outweighs the benefits for me on this one. I did San Fran and blew my CX travel budget for the season.

    I don’t know what Bellingham’s average temp. is – it rarely gets below freezing, so maybe similar to Belgium. We had a great time in January last year. I don’t start any races before 10 am for this very reason! Cold for racers, even colder for volunteers building course at 7am in the dark.

  12. Been there in December. Very cold. This seems like one of those decisions that was based on “Let’s-show-everyone-how-hardcore-cyclocross-riders-are.” Funny thing, when i was there last year, I spoke to some local cyclocross riders and they have a ton of civic pride. They love Madison and they love cyclocross. BUT, they were all saying that CX Nationals should be in Texas or Tennessee or North Carolina. None of them would mind going some place a little warmer. Whatever. I guess it can’t be in Bend EVERY year.

  13. yes it seems shitty. with a little luck, Boulder might get nats in 2014-15. sure it can be cold and snowy here too, but usu not as cold as Madison. I raced Nats in Portland in 2004, was a ton of fun at the PIR venue. the beach trip in January is a no brainer!

  14. **If** you do go, be sure to get a Bad Breath burger at the Lazy Traveler. And stop by New Glarus Brewing if you have a chance. I’m from Chicago, so it’s an easy trip for me. I could see pluses and minuses both ways for you.

    • “Weary” Traveler, not “Lazy”.

      I’m glad your knee is on it’s way to a full recovery!!

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