Colin on the run-up at Gloucester. Picture from Colin’s blog, where it was no doubt stolen from someone else.
Colin Reuter loves cyclocross. At a glance, it’s the all-consuming type of relationship that might inspire questions from concerned friends and family. Not only did he create crossresults.com, which has grown to be a central site in American cyclocross. And not only did he spend four years running the site for free in the evenings after his real job (crossresults now is his real job). He also promotes two races in New England every year, runs a cyclocross team, and races elite cross every fall. As you’d probably guess, we talked about cyclocross. More specifically, Colin’s introduction to the sport, the birth and evolution of crossresults, New England’s propensity for producing really-fast pros, and more.
I’m assuming that you were a cyclist for at least some time before you became the Internet king of cyclocross. How did you get your start riding and racing?
My dad started taking me to mountain bike races in the 90s when the scene blew up, and both he and I would race. I was a small kid who didn’t ride much, so I got my ass kicked all over junior beginner class for a year or two. At the time I assumed that anyone racing expert class was probably a wizard.
After that, I went off to college and gave up mountain bike racing for the greener pastures of club-level Nordic skiing and habitual all-nighters. It wasn’t until I got a 60-hour-a-week job after college, in Florida, that I finally figured out that sports were actually an integral part of my happiness. So I quit, moved back to New England and started showing up at mountain bike races just like the old days. Everyone kept asking me if I was going to race ‘cross, and I thought, this many people must be onto something …
When did you start racing cross? Did it become an all-consuming obsession right away or did that take a few seasons?
I started in 2006, in the middle of the season, and I was absolutely hooked from the first race. I raced every single weekend after the first one and started crossresults at the end of the year. It the perfect timing to discover something new and fun. I was 24 and really had no idea what I was doing with my life. Five years later I still have no idea what normal people do on the weekend.
I know you race elite cross and at least high-level, if not pro mountain bike. Did you ever have aspirations to be a professional cyclist?
I’ve never had any aspirations to be a pro. It would be awesome, of course, but a childhood of Nordic ski racing made it very clear to me how many people out there have far more talent than I do. And most of them still aren’t good enough to be professional athletes. Make no mistake, I’m way below my maximum potential with my current lifestyle, but I’m also very confident that no one would pay me to ride a bike even if I reached that potential.
I’ve always suspected that it’s more fulfilling to ride as fast as you can because you want to, not because you have to. But I’ve only tried the former.
What was the inspiration for crossresults? How different was the site when you launched it from what it is today?
My first year of racing, I went to upgrade to cat 3. I logged into USAC’s website to apply for the upgrade and saw a link to my “race history.” I thought, “Oh, sweet! This is going to be a list of every race I did this year, probably with automatic upgrade point calculations and stuff! Technology is so cool!”
I clicked the link and the results were … disappointing, to say the least. But it made me realize that I had an idea for something that hadn’t been done on the Internet yet. The season ended a few weeks later and didn’t know what else to do with my free time, so I started programming.
These days, the site is BIGGER, but not much different than when it started. I’ve added lots of features over the years, but deleted almost none (heck, the sandbagger search is still there, although I’m not sure if the code runs very well now that there’s half a million results in the database).
Last year you went pro with crossresults. How did the BikeReg merger come about? Are you doing the cross and road-results sites full time or do you do other work for BikeReg?
Crossresults had grown to the point that it was starting to destroy my life outside work. I’d work all day, then come home, drink coffee and spend 2-3 hours working on the site. It was unsustainable, so I had to find a way to turn it into a real job. Problem is that you can’t make a living wage off a four-month, niche-sport website. I had to find someone with enough extra programming work for me to do the other 8 months of year and I ended up talking with USACycling and BikeReg. Ultimately, BikeReg’s vision of the site was closer to my original one, so I ended up selling to them. Now I work on cross/road-results whenever I need to, and BikeReg the rest of the time. It’s an awesome job.
More than a few of America’s best cross pros have come out of New England. What is it about NECX that produces generation after generation of racers like Mark McCormack, Jonathan Page, Tim Johnson, Jamey Driscoll, Jeremy Powers?
I think a lot of it has to do with the racing culture around here and how it treats elite racing like SERIOUS BUSINESS. When I got started with ‘cross, I went to my first Verge race (the UCI series in New England) and Tim, Jeremy and Mark had a heated battle for most of the race. Richard Fries on the mic made it seem like the most epic battle in the history of cycling and I was like, wow, THAT IS AWESOME AND I WISH I COULD BE THOSE GUYS. It was the first time I’d felt like bike racing was glamorous, yet still somewhat attainable by the “average guy”–I mean, did you SEE the car Jeremy drove back then? It gave me something to aspire to. I was like, “I want to race with those guys.” If I’d been at some random grassroots cross race in [insert region you want to disparage here], I’d never have had that inspiration.
Granted, I was too old and too mediocre to actually do it, but if I’d been a talented 14-year-old at the time, it might’ve changed my life.
Beyond that? I have no idea.