Sports Editor

Do you love biking and running? How about jumping off your bike, throwing it over your shoulder and running for perhaps 25 percent of the course as you don’t dare pedal through a stretch of rugged terrain or an ominous mud pool? Has your road cycling or mountain biking felt a little stale lately, and you’re seeking an adventurous change? Cyclocross could be for you.

Gorham couple Nicole and Chris Cyr would urge you to give it a try and have some fun. Nicole, a Connecticut native, is a 1996 graduate of Keene State College, where she studied health science. She was a competitive cross-country runner there and has been an avid mountain biker since she was twelve. Jobs in the health field and out- door sports retail eventually led to her settling in the Portland area.

Nicole and Chris met on a group mountain bike ride several years ago and have a daughter, Eleanor, who is not yet two years old, and is accustomed to being in tow on some of Chris’s rides. Chris has been mountain biking for twenty years and also races.

Nicole is involved in personal training and coaching endurance athletes through her business, Strategic Racing, and is passionate about individuals and families being active, enjoying the outdoors. She loves the scenic beauty of southern Maine, and finds Gorham offers terrain conducive to training.

Photo credit Hal D’Amico
Nicole and Chris Cyr with their young daughter, Eleanor, who is accustomed to being in tow on some of the family’s rides.

Nicole is an organizer for a major regional race, the Casco Bay Cyclocross, which will be held this year on Sunday, October 22, and attracts more than 300 racers, and includes a Kid’s Fun Cross Ride. She is a dedicated supporter of Healthy Kids, Happy Kids, and this kids’ event will benefit the organization.

Healthy Kids, Happy Kids is a local nonprofit whose purpose is to develop a sense of confidence, community and character in children throughout Maine by providing opportunities to bicycle in a safe, learning environment.

While the roots of cyclocross are debatable, it was likely founded in early 1900s Europe by road racing cyclists who would sometimes race from one town to the next by choosing any route possible, thus including farms, woods, water crossings, and fences. It also became an offseason training tool, working different muscles and to simply change up the routine. Racing season in the northern hemisphere is typically fall and winter.

What’s the best way to explore this exciting sport? Nicole suggested attending a race as a spectator or volunteer. While cyclocross bikes are similar to road bikes, there are differences, including knobby tires, wider tire clearance, and some gearing and brake modifications. However, one shouldn’t be shy to jump into a race (there are also untimed events growing in popularity), using the bike you have.

A primary requirement, according to Nicole, is “You can’t be afraid to get dirty,” and be prepared to be wearing an unplanned, non-salon approved facial mudpack. Gorham folks may want to give this fast-growing sport a try. More info can be found here or by contacting Nicole at