The History of Cyclocross

Valentin Tondeur winning the 1930 Championship of Paris Cyclocross race. Photo credit to www.blackbirdsf.org

Like much of bike racing, Cyclocross is rich in history. It's traceable roots date back to France in 1902, when a French soldier named Daniel Gousseau is credited with organizing the first French National Championship Cyclocross race. Numerous other National Championship Cyclocross races started popping up in other European countries shortly there after in places like Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, and Italy.

Prior to 1902, it is believed that Cyclocross originated during the Autumn in the French countryside when French road racers would race through farmer's fields, taking short cuts, and jumping over fences from one town to another. Early on, this was called "steeple chasing" as the riders would simply ride toward the next town with the landmark they were following being a church steeple.

It wasn't until 1950 that the UCI caught on and finally sanctioned the first Cyclocross World Championship race, which happened in Paris - 48 years after the first National Championship event.

Here in the US, Cyclocross started to become popular on the east and west coast in the 70's with the first National Championship event taking place in Berkely, CA in 1975.

Today, we find the Cyclocross world stronger than ever! With a full European and North American race schedule, and UCI races on both sides of the Atlantic, there are plenty of races to fill up the schedules of riders in the pro ranks. Here in the Midwest, racers will find several Cross races per week. Believe it or not, it is now common to find more competitors and 10 times the spectators at your average Cross race as compared to your average road race here in the Midwest.

In the bike industry, Cyclocross related sales have seen double digit growth numbers for the past 4-5 years.

So there you have it, Cyclocross is a well established sport that is really becoming popular amongst the masses here in the Midwest! It is a fun way to get outside and enjoy the transitional season from Summer to Winter and also an opportunity to keep your cycling fitness going right into the ski season!


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