December was busy for Micah Moran.
There was a Dec. 7 victory at the 2003 Missouri Cyclocross Championships in Columbia. Glowing from the win, Moran, a University of Missouri senior, competed at the Cyclocross National Championships on Dec. 12-14 in Portland, Ore.
He finished 16th out of 70 participants in the collegiate event and also competed in the elite race where he finished in the top 50. He entered the Under-23 Espoir race but succumbed to the mud.
Now, Moran, a journalism major, will go back to training between shifts at Walt’s Bicycle Shop.
“It definitely gets a little overwhelming,” Moran said. “With the level that I’m at, I’m putting more time into the sport.”
Moran has managed to make a big name for himself in a little known sport. Cyclocross, which combines elements of road and mountain biking, originated in Europe in the 1940s as a way for road racers to stay in shape during the winter months.
The race course is usually 1-3 kilometers long and is made up of grass fields, dirt roads, asphalt sections, sand, mud and water. The several running sections and strategically placed hurdles set cyclocross apart from other kinds of racing. The obstacles force the riders to dismount, carry their bikes over the hurdles and remount in one fluid motion.
“There’s a definite art to the sport,” Moran said. “You have to dismount and remount while making the transition as smooth as possible.”
Although some people may call cyclocross an extreme sport, Moran said he disagrees.
“It’s not dangerous by any means,” Moran said. “It’s more of a fitness sport. You’re not doing anything on a mountain bike that’s extremely technical or puts you at risk.”
The cyclocross is only a small part of Moran’s repertoire. Biking is a yearlong hobby for Moran, who will be in Tucson, Ariz., during break to start training for the road season. In the spring, Moran competes for the Mizzou Racing Club, for which he has served as president for the past three years.
As soon as school ends, though, he changes jerseys and loyalties. During the summer months, Moran races for Dogfish, an apparel store in St. Louis that sponsors more than 200 racers across the nation.
“They’re the ones that keep me in clothing, bikes and entry fees,” Moran said. “With that I travel all across the Midwest, every single weekend, racing several times a weekend.”
Moran said an uncle who followed cycling before it became popular fostered his interest in the sport at an early age. Moran also named his older brother Ben as a early role model.
“I got a certain familiarity about the sport from my older brother,” Moran said. “I would follow in his footsteps, borrowing bikes from him and old jerseys.”
Moran said he became hooked his freshman year of high school when he started racing with a friend and traveling around the Midwest.
It seems to be a passion that won’t be waning anytime soon. With plans to graduate in May, Moran said that biking will definitely be in his future, and he has thought about moving out west to be closer to the racing scene.
“Everything that I do revolves around biking,” Moran said. “I ride bikes, I work on bikes and I hope to someday either write about bikes or ride for a living. I’ve been immersed in biking my whole life, and I don’t know anything different. It’s what I know, it’s what I do well and it’s what I love to do.