U.S. Cyclocross Nationals: Snow Falling, Beer Flowing

Cross Feature Articles Race Coverage

One more reason to get pumped up for ‘cross nationals this week.

Need another reason to get excited about this week’s U.S. cyclocross national championships in Boulder, Colorado? I’ll give you two.

This past weekend, it snowed about a foot in town. And while the forecast is fairly mild the rest of this week, unless USA Cycling busts out some truck-sized hair dryers, there is no way the Valmont Bike Park course will completely dry out before Sunday’s elite races.

We’re pre-riding the course Tuesday afternoon and will report back findings soon after. But safe to say there is mud in a lot of racers’ futures, which is just how it should be.

Reason No. 2? Beer! As in this year’s ’cross nationals has its very own special brew, a sporty 8% tripel that was brewed up at Colorado’s oldest microbrewery, Boulder Beer. The Heckler, as it’s dubbed, comes in 16oz cans and has what Boulder Beer president Jeff Brown calls a “subtle spicy, fruity aroma.”

“It’s a strong Belgian ale that uses Belgian yeast,” explained Brown, whose brewery is a longtime supporter of local cycling events such as the annual Boulder Cup UCI cyclocross race. “It’s the kind of beer you want to sip, not slam.”

Brown says the inspiration to do the one-off brew was simply opportunity. Having nationals come to your hometown doesn’t happen all the time. “And of course beer and cyclocross go great together,” he added.

As for the name, it’s a straight-forward homage to passionate cyclocross fans, who just like their brethren at this past weekend’s NFL playoffs, have a propensity for knocking back adult beverages and sharing their thoughts in a high-decibel way. These are the people who like to yell, scream, cheer, and yes, heckle.

Boulder Beer also wanted to pay tribute to the motherland of cyclocross and Belgium’s great history of brewing, said Boulder Beer brewmaster David Zuckerman about a recipe he and his team worked on for a year.

This is what Boulder looked like Monday morning.

For anyone coming in for nationals, if you happen to like craft beer, you’re in a for a frosty treat. Boulder Beer is one of 18 microbreweries within the area. No wonder they call Colorado’s Front Range the Napa Valley of Beer.

“Boulder and the surrounding area have become a destination for people that are into craft beer,” said Upslope Brewing company founder Matt Cutter. “And beer and cyclocross are one of the most natural pairings there is. You get done with a hard race and the first thing a lot of the racers do is crack a beer.”

The Heckler will be available at stores from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, and sells for about $12 for a 4-pack of 16oz cans. Check out this video to learn more about the Heckler, and see a list of our favorite Front Range-area breweries and brews below. (For even more beer beta, head over to our sister site and drink up the Mtbr.com Beer Guide.)

Avery Brewing Company, Boulder (Our Pick: White Rascal Belgium Style Wheat Ale)
Boulder Beer Company, Boulder (Our Pick: Singletrack Copper Ale)
Funkwerks, Fort Collins (Our Pick: Saison)
Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont (Our Pick: Milk Stout Nitro)
New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins (Our Pick: Shift Pale Lager)
Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins (Our Pick: 90 Shilling)
Oskar Blues, Lyons and Longmont (Our Pick: Dale’s Pale Ale)
Upslope Brewing Company, Boulder (Our Pick: Craft Lager)

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures in British Columbia, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, and Peru among many others. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in January, 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and edited a book on cycling tips. When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying the great outdoors with his wife Lisa.


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