- Associated Press - Sunday, June 26, 2016

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Dylan Postier is running through a thick patch of mud; not because he has to or needs to, though he does if he is to come out victorious, but because he wants to.

A few minutes earlier, he had been on a bicycle, pumping his legs up and down incessantly against the pedals as he climbs hills and fights the rough terrain. All of a sudden the bike slows down, his legs churning against a seemingly unstoppable force.

Postier’s hits a thick patch of mud, one of the many obstacles he must overcome to claim to be the best in the sport he has come to love immensely. He hops to the side of the bike and starts running as he senses the other riders catching up.

Once he makes it past the mire of sludge, he jumps back on the bike and begins to gain speed. This is what Postier must do until he hits another obstacle and gets off the bike again. Over and over for an hour until he crosses the finish line, which Postier hopes he will be the first out of the pack to do.

“I like to describe the races as motocross but without the jump,” Postier said. “It’s a complete all-out effort.”

So is the life of a cyclocross rider, a member of a growing sport that thanks to Postier now has traction in Oklahoma after the creation of its first professional team in the sport, “Renewed”, or RCX for short, which is based out of Stillwater.

Cyclocross is a unique discipline of bicycle racing that has parallels with mountain biking, but with the added difficulty of different obstacles, either natural or man-made, where the rider must dismount and carry their bike around the obstruction.

The course is usually two kilometers long and the duration is 60 minutes. The number of laps is determined on what pace the riders are at following the first lap.

“Your heart rate may average 180 to 190 beats per minute for an hour,” Postier said. “A lot of races take place in inclement weather, you race rain or shine, barring lighting or something to that extent. I’ve had plenty of mud races and races that have been snowy and icy.”

The Stillwater News Press (https://bit.ly/28PVPDM ) reports that Postier has been riding for most of his life and was attracted to cyclocross because of a background in motocross and he liked the off-road style of it. As the vice president of the Oklahoma State University cycling club, he shared his love of the sport by creating “Gobble Cross” at the course in Stillwater’s North Couch Park. “Gobble Cross” takes place in November and has hosted state championships since its inception.

Postier has been racing professionally in cyclocross since 2013 and at one point last year; he realized he had the opportunity to create his own team. Noticing there weren’t any pro teams in the region, Postier said he knew how big a pro team could be for helping popularize the sport in Oklahoma and build up its fan base.

“I started looking at it last fall,” Postier said. “I got a couple of offers this year from some other teams but I decided that I wanted to create something new, kind of a different vision within cyclocross.”

The difficulty of creating something where there was nothing isn’t only gaining a following or finding places to race, but trying to stay afloat financially as well. Postier said while there are hundreds of teams in the more established road discipline, which he also races, and money is more distributed there because sponsors are more built in; cyclocross is different.

There isn’t a set number of teams as the sport keeps growing, but it sits at a bit more than 20 teams right now and Postier said all the money is with the top three to five teams.

“There’s money at the very top, but the support structure isn’t there like it is in road discipline and the road racing side of it,” Postier said. “Our main goal and the reason why I wanted to do this as opposed to something else was because I wanted to make a sustainable platform for people to make that jump to those very few top teams.”

Because of the constrained budget, aside from sponsors, the sport is mostly self-funded. Luckily, because of the pace at which it is expanding, courses like “Gobble Cross” or “Tulsa Tough” which has attracted large crowds in recent years have been opened for races in Oklahoma and Texas. That saves a lot of travel money that four years ago would have been used to drive to Boulder, Colorado, home of what was then the closest pro course.

The budget also restricts how many people are on the team, for now it’s Postier and his friend Tyler Cloutier, who he met as a competitor in a cyclocross race. Cloutier, who is from Texas by way of New Hampshire, said he fell in love with the sport because of the athletic ability it demanded. As a collegiate soccer player, Cloutier loved the appeal of riding and running and he started cyclocross in 2012.

“Watching some of the pro races on TV and the national championship really got me into it,” Cloutier said.

When Postier was thinking of creating RCX last year, Cloutier was his top choice. Cloutier said over time in the cycling community, even your competitors quickly become friends, and so was the case with him and Postier.

“It’s just riders that I have met on the circuit and that I believe in,” Postier said. “And Tyler is one that I trust to be a good ambassador not only for the sport but for the sponsors as well.”

Because the cyclocross season doesn’t start until September, Postier and Cloutier will be practicing for their inaugural season by racing in road discipline. Postier said he’s excited by the aspect of the sponsors RCX has been getting because the team has gotten surprisingly good support for a first-year team.

Postier said because him and Cloutier are trying to get their name out there, they will have to shut down the sponsor registration so they can go out on road races and start promoting RCX’s name.

Until then, Postier will keep running through all the mud he has to for the sport he loves.

___

Information from: Stillwater News Press, https://www.stwnewspress.com

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