Racing cross - it's just a mess. A glorious mess. Compared to the tension of road racing, when you're in the pack and one stupid thing can end not just someone's race but someone's season, or ripple out and ruin a lot of people's seasons, cross is like being twelve years old again. It's a very childish kind of thrill: dirty, out-of-control, laughing with your friends, some senseless heated rivalry you'll forget about in thirty minutes, and that sort of slapped-together feeling like when you were so bored in the long summer months that you and your friends combine several sports to make a new one: ‘Hey, what if we ran with our bikes?' At the same time, cross can be as intense as you want to make it - when you're out there racing, you can be flat-out racing. The few times I've happened to get to the front of a cross race, I've been amazed at how like a road race it feels - swapping pulls, working together to bust off the guy you don't want around at the finish, modulating the gap back to the pack. When you're in the middle or back of a race, when you're just learning, cross kind of feels like you just go as hard as you can the whole time and there's no strategy. Up front, you're going as hard as you can while trying to employ some strategy.
Still, for me, cross is almost not all about results and almost entirely about my friends, about goofing around, about loving bicycles.