The holidays are upon us and the first ever ’cross worlds in the United States, in Louisville, Kentucky, are now just seven weeks away. If a trip to Belgium for the Kerstperiode races isn’t in the cards, here are three new books that might help you get in the spirit of the season — cyclocross season, that is.
“Behind the Stare” >> $19.95
In “Behind the Stare” (Deeds Publishing, 2012) U.S. national team coach and EuroCrossCamp director Geoff Proctor leads readers on a season-long journey through the world of European cyclocross as he seeks answers to the question of what drives racers to turn themselves inside out, week after week, in miserable conditions, through the height of the winter gloom in pursuit of success. Part travelogue, part personal meditation, through a series of interwoven and interlinked essays, Proctor uses his unique access and perspective to go behind the scenes with Sven Nys, Bart Wellens, Jonathan Page, Ryan Trebon and a host of cyclocross legends of the past and present, exploring their struggles and triumphs, as they make their way through the 2007-08 season. If you want to know what drives the riders who will no doubt be at the center of the story in Louisville, “Behind the Stare” is a must-read.
“Mud, Snow, and Cyclocross >> $19.95
For fans still scratching their heads over why anybody would ride a bike through the mud when it’s 35 degrees out, Molly Hurford’s “Mud, Snow, and Cyclocross” (Deeds Publishing, 2012) might just help answer the question. Hurford’s book is less personal — although no less compelling — than Proctor’s, and offers an excellent survey of the state of cyclocross in its American variety. Hurford walks readers though the rise of cyclocross in the United States, introducing both the pioneers who helped carry the sport from its roots on the fringes of cycling to its popularity explosion in the past decade, and the current stars, many of whom hope to be on the podium in Louisville in February. She also provides primers on the basics of ‘cross racing and equipment, and homegrown traditions that make American ’cross uniquely American. Anybody still wondering what the fuss over cyclocross is all about would do well to check out Hurford’s book.
“Cyclocross 2011/12” >> £34.99
Finally, when you’ve read enough and want to simply dive into the mud for a fully immersive experience, Balint Hamvas’ gorgeous photo book, “Cyclocross 2011/12” (Cyclephotos.co.uk, 2012) offers just that sort of experience. The London-based Hamvas, who in the past several years has become one of the world’s top cyclocross photographers, offers a yearbook of the last season in Europe. Hamvas’ photos, printed almost larger than life on the page, drop readers right into the middle of the action, capturing all the intensity, drama, suffering, and celebration of the world’s biggest races. Accompanied by crisp prose from British ‘cross legend Simon Burney and Belgian writer Caroline Cardinaels and a series of behind-the-scenes photo essays taking readers into Bart Wellens’ race day mobile home and Ridley’s Belgium-based service course, Hamvas’ photos go far beyond sports photojournalism. Instead, Hamvas’ uses cyclocross as a canvas on which to frame a bigger artistic vision, where sport serves as a metaphor for a grander human drama.