Stu started racing cyclo-cross in 1988 and left active racing in 1998 when family and business demands made training very tough. Today Stu manages his own highly successful bike shop, Bay Road Bikes, in Hamilton , Massachusetts with cyclo-cross as his primary focus. The unique extent of Stu's inventory has made him the go-to guy for anything and everything cyclo-cross with national and international customers. As an extension of his business Stu sponsors riders like Tim Johnson and Lyne Bessette. You will also bump into Stu at major races like the National and World Championships in his role as certified team mechanic. Visit Stu's web site at: www.cyclocrossworld.com .
Graham Jones : We seem to have a very good up and coming generation of cyclo-crossers.
Stu Thorne : I think it is a good transition for the young kids.
GJ : Do they come across from the mt. bikes?
Stu : A lot do, because a lot of the kids will come out (to CX) on a mt. bike.
GJ : What surprised me at the 2005 Nationals was the large number of younger girls racing?
Stu : There was a girl who came by the CyclocrossWorld . com tent with her father, she couldn't do her race but did the B women's race on Sunday and was 2 nd . She was only 14 years old. She was a national champ on the track bike. It was just great to see the cross over between cycling disciplines.
GJ : Is the sport doing anything proactively to encourage youngsters?
Stu : I don't see enough of it. You do have the TIAA-Cref initiative, and they have done a great job at offering some of those guys an opportunity to compete. RAD Racing is another program in the Northwest that focuses on the young kids.
GJ : I know locally we have Mark McCormack and Tim Johnson who mentor kids.
Stu : Yes, look at some of the young kids here. Out of Bay Road Bikes we have two 15 year olds racing cross and nothing else.
GJ : How do you see the next 5 years for CX in the US ?
Stu : The USGP guys would say it's about 20% growth in numbers of riders.
GJ : Do they measure crowds?
Stu : Crowds are tough to measure, because no one is selling a gate. Gloucester had a pretty good crowd, Nationals had a pretty good crowd, but we have a ways to go. We're getting the same people at each event. National had 1500 racers, with families watching the races, it's a contended group. It is growing. Gloucester does a great job of promoting outside of the sport. Hopefully there is more of that going on throughout CX.
GJ : How would you like to see the sport in 5 years from now, something similar to Europe where there is WC's, TV coverage, etc.?
Stu : I'd love to see that, but there is a part of me that doesn't want to see CX go the way of NORBA, which got too big for is britches.
Barry Boyce : ESPN does some NORBA (mt. bike) races, but CX is better because it's all right there in one place.
Stu : There's no question. I am biased on this, but you can't watch a cycling event that is better than this. Track racing is close. A criterium, you see them come around. When watching a road race they come by and there gone… that's it. You pack up and go to the finish, maybe. But go to Gloucester (or any CX course) and you can see 75% of the course from one vantage point.
GJ : CX season is short in the US , after the Nationals in December that's it. Europe keeps going for 2 more months. Why is that?
Stu : I think it survives over there because it is so much more a part of their tradition and culture.
GJ : Don't crossers get frustrated, suddenly it is Nationals and done?
Stu : True, there a lot of elites who would love to continue here getting ready for Worlds.
GJ : Not only the elites but also the average Joe?
Stu : One of the problems is there is such a focus on the holidays; it's hard to get motivated after that. Whereas in Europe they have 6 races between Christmas and New Years. I can't imagine a master's rider in the US taking time off on Christmas Day to race.
GJ : Everyone will have their Guinness and be on the same level.
GJ : How does some one get started in CX? Let's assume we have some young readers, where do they go?
Stu : You have find a shop that has someone going to races. Or even just some one going to race in your area.
GJ : Where to go for research?
Stu : Go to www.CyclocrossWorld.com for information. On this web site go to the ‘Tech' page where you will find a lot of useful and very practical cyclo-cross specific information.
In addition there are also a growing number of other web sites out there (two good ones: http://cyclo-cross.info/ , www.cyclo-cross.com ) with posted articles.
At http://cyclocrossworld.stores.yahoo.net/books.html we sell several excellent resources. Here are two examples:
Simon Burney's book on Cyclo-cross Training and Technique,
Cycle-Smart's DVD Solutions for Cyclo-cross
Stu : But probably the best way to get involved with the exciting sport of cyclo-cross is to find someone who is going to an event and just go and observe. You can get by at the beginning with a mt. bike, you do not need a cross bike to get started. Then progress into a cross bike. Just go to the races, get involved