I Went To DFL Cross and I Am Glad I Did

DFL Cross 2017

The DFL ‘Cross race is one of those secret/not-so-secret races at a undisclosed location in San Francisco which one would really have to be in-the-know in order to find out when/what/where the ride the race takes place. And though I’ve heard whispers over the years about how wicked this race is, I always end up missing it even though the race takes place just down the street from my house. I was finally able to check it out last year while shooting for a German cycling magazine.

Last year it was stupid cold, but also incredibly fun. So, I made a point to not miss the DFL ‘Cross this year.

DFL Cross 2017
It’s a family affair.

A lot has transpired for me this past year: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ridden the rollercoaster which was 2017. But, the purpose of this piece is not about recounting or retelling them in celebration, jest or anger. Well, not really anyway because seriously one would better spend their precious internet time on anything other than reading about some dude’s brag/rant (me) and this is an outdoor enthusiast media site for crying out loud.

I don’t want to write about the best gear I tried in 2017 because everyone else has been doing that since at least November. And so I am going to write about DFL Cross. The last bike race I photographed in 2017.


Walking to park their bikes for the Le Mans-styled start


It's either exciting, cold, or both.


All outfits welcome.


pre-race instruction


Run run run


Catching a bit air


Definitely not UCI-legal barriers but wayyyy more fun


Dropping in.


Dirt riding in the City be like


Curtis getting candy caned


Lots of trees to go around


The winner


Fun for all.




A Low.


A Crust Bikes.


A Rock Lobster.


A Retrotec.


Trying on this Falconer.

A bike race that I shouldn’t even be at in the first place.

You see, I ditched my regular group ride that I’ve been MIAing from for weeks and Saturday was my daughter’s one-year birthday. I should be doing base miles, running errands and making birthday decorations.

But nope. I needed to get some fresh air, both literally and figuratively. But before I could leave the house I had to make my hangry two-year-old son waffles from scratch.

I barely made it. Thank goodness the event ran on what I lovingly call Asian-time.

I soon found a few riding buddies milling around and found out that one of them had his bikes stolen out of his own home hours prior. The bastards took almost everything, but left his S-Works 29er race bike. Someone joked it probably had to do with his vintage Onza bar-ends. As angry and sad as one could be over the loss of their beloved bicycles, he was out there riding with his last remaining bicycle, anyway. That deserves thousands of kudos.

DFL Cross 2017
Original Onza bar ends yo!

The race eventually had to start. The DFL course uses a Le Mans style start so the game before the game is bike placement. The vets have their stashing strategy all figured out while newbies just leave it here and there, walk to the start, listen to a few rules, and off they go.

DFL Cross 2017

And we were treated with the best the park had to offer: log barriers, tight corners, gravel, dirt, traffic jams, and a whole lot of high-fives. I was just getting into the shooting groove when I overheard the call for two laps to go and it dawned on me that this was by far one of the best grassroots races I’ve seen all year, or ever for that matter.

DFL Cross 2017
Curtis on a roll.

This is where funky costumes are encouraged, no one gets a medal, there is an endless stream of trash-talking, racers pay to enjoy Patxi’s and beer post-race, and shredding in the park with a bunch of like-minded friends in the name of fun is a much-needed disconnect from everything else.

DFL Cross 2017
Post-race party

It was a beautiful and timely reminder that there is plenty of love, family, and riding with friends to look forward to in 2018. And for that I am thankful.

DFL Cross 2017
Happy place