Cyclocross is one of those under-the-radar sports.
Combining the endurance of cross country running and the explosive speed and intensity of sprinting, with the finesse and bike-handling skills of mountain biking and road cycling — and done in heat, snow, rain and mud on grass, sand, rocks, pavement and dirt — it is not for everyone.
Okay, it’s probably not for most people.
But it’s a sport that has enthralled Eneas Freyre, Caden Freyre and Alex St. Andre.
The trio — owner of TTEndurance on the Post Road, his son and a Bedford Middle School 7th grader respectively — recently returned from Louisville, Kentucky.
They competed in the US Cyclocross National Championship. It was rough, tough — and hugely fulfilling.
There — as in other events — crossers rode, pushed and carried their bikes up and down steep hills, over barriers and other obstacles, in grueling 30- to 60-minute races.
In Louisville, over 2,000 athletes, ages 9 (!) to 85 (!!) vied in age-class and elite/pro level races. Eneas Freyre competed in the Masters 40-44 group; his son Caden in 11-12, and Alex St. Andre in the 13-14-year-old class.
It rained — hard. In fact, it was the muddiest and most difficult course Alex ever raced on. Still, he says, “I had a blast! It was a fantastic experience, a fun race and a great trip.”
As difficult as it was — and as great as these athletes are — the national championships did not get much attention.
In Europe, pro cyclocross races draw tens of thousands of fans, and massive TV coverage.
The cyclocross community is “incredibly supportive,” says Alex’s father, Jim St. Andre. The young Westporter has found a home there.
Alex has participated in many sports. But, Jim says, he has never been pushed harder — physically and mentally. And he’s never felt more fulfillment than through cyclocross.
Freyre helped immensely. His TTEndurance offers specialized training for cycling, running, triathlons and strength. He is a great role model: In addition to cyclocross, Freyre holds the record (with Westporter Park Pattinson) for the 2-man bicycle Race Across America, and has won several Mount Washington Bicycle Hillclimbs.
Freyre introduced the St. Andres to cyclocross 3 years ago. They’ve been all in ever since.
TTEndurance supports youth and adult teams. They practice indoors at the studio above the old Great Cakes, and outdoors at Sherwood Island and other spots.
Freyre provides bikes and helmets for first-timers. “All it took was one practice for Alex to get hooked,” Jim St. Andre says.
Cyclocross is definitely not for everyone. But you’ll never know until you try.