In a sport that eats its young, two teenage brothers are pedaling
their way to cyclocross stardom
This is an article from the Dec. 3, 2001 issue
Nascar, meet cyclocross. Road cycling's offbeat cousin features
high speeds on a closed course, cerebral tactics, the
ever-present prospect of carnage, even pit stops during 60
minutes of furious pedaling. Now add burning thighs, seared
lungs and treacherous course conditions that typically include
mud, gusty winds, hail and snow. At last year's cyclocross
national championships, for example, an arctic cold front
transformed the Overland Park, Kans., course into a single-digit
tundra. "We were racing on solid ice, with 30-mile-per-hour
crosswinds," says Jesse Anthony of Beverly, Mass., who would win
the gold medal in the 15- to 16-year-old division.
Jesse, 16, and his brother Josh, 19, are two of the
fastest-rising stars in this niche-but-gnarly sport and are
favorites to win gold again in their respective age groups at
this year's nationals, which will take place in Baltimore on
Dec. 14 and 15. The most spectator-friendly of the cycling
disciplines, cyclocross races last only an hour and are usually
run on enclosed, cloverleaf-shaped courses, which enables fans
to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of the competitors. Yet
cyclocross has never enjoyed the wild popularity of its off-road
cousin, mountain biking, owing to its cutthroat nature and a
brutally inclement fall-through-midwinter schedule with terrain
that often makes carrying, and not riding, a bike the fastest
course of action. It is not a sport, say its practitioners, for
the weekend warrior.
"You have to be a competitive person to enjoy it," says Jesse,
who like his brother is a member of the elite Saturn development
team. "In road cycling Joe Schmo goes out on a road ride, has
fun and feels that he can relate to Lance Armstrong. But no one
rides cross just for fun."
The Anthony brothers got their cycling starts on mountain bikes,
but by the fall of 1998, Josh decided to try his hand at
something new. Not an exceptional endurance athlete, Josh found
his explosive bursts of power were much better suited to
cyclocross's shorter races. Jesse soon followed in his brother's
Sticking with the sport, however, required a resolve that few
teenagers sustain. ("There are always times when I want to
quit," Josh admits.) The Anthonys recall the 1998 national
championships at Fort Devens, Mass., when a semifrozen dirt hill
thawed in the morning sun, creating a wall of mud that was
virtually impossible to climb. For those racers who did make the
ascent, the descent proved even worse, because nasty spills left
several of the roughly 650 competitors battered and bruised and
sent at least one racer home with a broken collarbone. "Most
kids get to that point where it really hurts, and they quit,"
says Stu Thorne, a former cyclocross racer and an early mentor
to the Anthony brothers. "These guys can suffer a little more."
Fitness has always been a priority in the Anthony household,
though traditional sports are not. Nor is traditional education:
Along with their two sisters and three brothers, Josh and Jesse
are homeschooled. While that enables the brothers to train
virtually anytime they like, their days aren't all fun and
games. They adhere to an almost monastic regimen: sleep, eat,
ride, study, repeat. "You have to give up a lot of things," says
Josh, "movies, concerts, just hanging out with friends."
Says Thorne, "It's a different lifestyle for a kid that age, but
I don't think Josh and Jesse are missing out on a whole lot.
They have a lot of young friends on the team, or friends they
see at the races. Their friends just happen to be world-class
The biggest name in big-wave surfing delivers one bombs-away
performance after another--in digital, no less
The recently released surfing DVD Laird (Blue Field
Entertainment, $29.99) doesn't skimp on any of the hallmarks of
the genre: artsy black-and-white flashbacks, kickin' soundtrack
(Moby, Ben Harper), voice-overs heavy on metaphysical musings
and, of course, an endless summer of jaw-dropping waves.
Nevertheless, what makes Laird memorable is the glimpse it
offers of its eponymous protagonist. The video traces how Laird
Hamilton's lifelong pursuit of bigger waves led him to pioneer
tow-in surfing, in which Jet Skis are used to position surfers
in the maw of waves that would be otherwise impossible to catch.
The result is astounding footage of the world's greatest
big-wave surfer devouring waves at Pe'ahi, Maui (a.k.a. Jaws),
and Teahupoo, Tahiti, where, on Aug. 17, 2000, the camera
captured Hamilton surfing what the video bills as the heaviest
wave ever ridden. It is a revelation to see the fearless
Hamilton in action and even more of a jolt to tap into his
brooding intensity. As Laird says during one of Laird's quieter
moments, "If you see waves like what you saw here and you don't
believe there are things greater than we are, then you've got
some serious analyzing to do, and you should go sit under a big
tree for a long period of time."
With no prize money to be won at this year's U.S. windsurfing
championships, the lure of Fox's Temptation Island 2 was simply
too seductive for Kevin Pritchard (above), 25, who landed a gig
as one of the reality show's 26 singles. Through the third
episode of TI2, the three-time U.S. champ had yet to be voted
off the island. Should he woo his way to the last show in the
10-episode series, Pritchard won't get any dough, though he
could "win" a relationship with one of the show's four coupled
women.... Through Sunday only eight miles separated the top five
boats in the Volvo Ocean Race, which was nearing the finish of
the second leg of the nine-stage, 37,630-mile race around the
world. Although the boats had largely avoided the treacherous
conditions for which the Southern Ocean is renowned, the second
leg, from South Africa to Australia, wasn't stress-free. Keith
Kilpatrick, 40, a U.S. crewman aboard Amer Sports One, developed
severe intestinal pain, which necessitated that a Royal
Australian Air Force plane drop medical supplies onto the boat.
His condition has since stabilized.... Much of the attention in
the surfing world this week will be focused on Australia's Layne
Beachley, who will attempt to win her fourth straight women's
world title, in Maui. One other woman, the U.S.'s Lisa Andersen,
has won four consecutive world titles.
Faces and Feats
Nancy Johnson, Middletown, R.I.
Johnson, 48, a buyer for a sporting-goods store, won her 10th
women's title at the U.S. windsurfing championships in Hood
River, Ore. Johnson--whose husband, Platt, 47, won the Grand
Master men's crown at the event--was also the national champion
in 1980 and '81.
Alan Alborn, Anchorage
Alborn, 20, became the first U.S. skier to win three consecutive
Continental Cups, with jumps of 127.5 and 131.5 meters in the
most recent Cup, in Park City. The two-time national champ set
the U.S. distance mark last year with a leap of 210 meters in
Paris Williams, Groveland, Fla.
Williams, 29, won the overall title at the hang gliding national
championships in Hearne, Texas, finishing with 5,861 points in
the seven-day event. The hang gliding instructor also came in
second at the U.S. speed gliding championships in Lookout
Submit Faces candidates to siadventure.com/faces.
Moved by acts of kindness ranging from a homeless man's donating
his bag of change to Florida schoolchildren's gift of teddy
bears, five Manhattan firefighters have embarked on a Thank You
America tour, a 2,700-mile cross-country bike ride to express
gratitude for the outpouring of support they received in the
wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The firefighters--Dan
Rowan, Gerard Dolan, Matt Hornung, Salvatore Princiotta and Drew
Robb of Engine Company 33, which lost 10 men in the
attacks--hope to complete the ride by mid-December, in Pasadena.
Of the distance, Rowan says, "For me this is like going to the
deli, except the deli is 2,700 miles away."
Women who had won the title Fico-Lacoste World Champion of
Sailing before England's Ellen MacArthur was awarded the honor
this month. Bestowed every other year, the title is the most
prestigious in shorthanded sailing, or sailing that involves no
more than two competitors on a boat. The 25-year-old MacArthur
is also the youngest sailor to earn the award.
For more adventure, go to siadventure.com and check out these
--Ischgl, Austria: big-mountain skiing, big-time parties
--Behind the scenes with the directors and riders of Out Cold
--Gear guide: Prepare for the ski season on skinet.com