The history of bicycle events at the CrossFit Games started in 2012 when athletes completed an 8-km ride “across undulating terrain, with approximately 400 meters through unrideable soft sand” on the Camp Pendleton military base in San Diego, California.
“That sucked,” said eventual four-time individual champion Rich Froning after taking 18th place in the event. “It was kinda fun, though.”
We didn’t see a non-stationary bike at the Games again until 2017 when Cyclocross was introduced. In 2018, came Crit: a 10-lap bike race around a 1,200-m course. Two years later we saw Bike Repeater: 10 rounds of a 440-meter bike sprint and 1 legless rope climb. Last year, Bike to Work featured 10 miles of biking sandwiched between 150 reps of gymnastics.
Details for Ride — 2023’s bike test — were released on the CrossFit Games Instagram before the competition began. The opening test for the individual competition challenged athletes with a 40-minute ride in which they’d complete as many laps as possible on one of Trek’s most popular bikes: the Marlin 8 Gen 2. The Marlin 8 is a race-worthy bike with a smooth, lightweight RockShox fork, tubeless-ready wheels, and wide-range 1x drivetrain, making this model the best choice for riders who want a fast cross-country hardtail that will hold its own against Trek’s higher-end race bikes.
The course consisted of 2,400 meters on the bike, 200 meters off the bike, and 22 total turns. Director of Competition Adrian Bozman said the campus of the Alliant Energy Center allows him and his team to get creative with the programming for the Games.
“It's always cool to use the grounds of the Alliant Energy Center in creative ways to test the athletes. Riding an off-road course demands more coordination and balance in addition to the raw stamina required of a bike event,” Bozman said. “Individual athletes have come to expect riding as a staple of the Games. Teams rode for the first time last season, which caught some teams off-guard. We'll see which teams did their homework for 2023.”
Liz Horning, Events Manager at Trek, said competitive cycling requires both physical and mental fitness.
“Cycling is a low-impact form of fitness working the entire body: the lungs, heart, skeleton, muscles, and even the mind,” Horning said.
“Each pedal stroke activates multiple muscles in the legs alone: the gluteus maximus, quads, calves, and hip flexors. On average, athlete’s heart rates increase 70-85% while cycling vigorously,” she added.
Horning’s predictions for strategies included taking advantage of transition time and leveraging the gears efficiently. Proper pedaling cadence and their ability to navigate and gain efficiency in each turn will be vital, as well, she said.
But one strategy trumps them all.
“The greatest strategy for athletes to master will be energy management. It is not possible to give 100% throughout the duration of this event,” Horning said. “Understanding when to push the pace, when to set in, and when to go 100% will be crucial to win.”
Watch the full event at Games.CrossFit.com.
- Emma Lawson
- Emily Rolfe
- Emma Tall
- Katrin Davidsdottir
- Alexis Raptis
- Jonne Koski
- Jeff Adler
- Jay Crouch
- Roman Khrennikov
- Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson