What happens when you take a bicycle that’s made to go fast over flat, level, dry ground, and race it on mixed surfaces, such as dirt, gravel, and even pavement? You get the latest craze in two wheeled sports — Cyclocross.
Cyclocross, as the name suggests, is a bicycle race that is a hybrid between road racing (as in the Tour de France) and cross-country mountain bike racing. These events are usually held in public parks, and sometimes even on the grasses within those parks, outlined temporarily by marker tape.
Typically held in autumn months, cyclocross riders and spectators must be dressed for all kinds of conditions. Snowy and inclement weather is not uncommon, so everyone involved needs to consult the forecast in order to make the event more pleasurable. Participants are tough indeed, and even when the elements get the best of them, smiles still seem to prevail.
Fans show up with all sorts of noise makers, such as horns and the like; but cowbells are the most prevalent. Yes, that church-like pleasing ring, summoning the cyclocross gods to propel their gladiators to victory. Oh, more cowbell please!
The sport is growing rapidly here in Manitoba. A recent race called Darkcross, held in St. Adolphe, attracted the largest number of participants ever at a cyclocross event in Manitoba — 270 racers!
Organizers keep the entrance fees low by having many sponsors and countless volunteers from the sport donating everything under the sun to keep the events enjoyable.
All one has to do, is visit for the first time. That’s the beauty of it. To attend is to participate. Chant for the leaders, encourage the followers, and lovingly heckle your friends. Don’t have anyone whom you can call ‘friends’ who are racing that day? Stick around: you will have plenty in no time.
Of special interst is the Provincial Championships at the Forks on Sunday, November 3rd. The layout for the course will take riders through the many structures and across the various terrain in and around the Forks.
The Forks site may be home to the National Cyclocross Championships next year. The bid to hold the national race here has been submitted and many are hopeful of a successful outcome.
The next race is called CrossTastic, and will be held at Whittier Park, from Noon to 4 p.m. this coming Sunday, October 27th.
The final race of the season is the Manitoba Provincial Championships will take place at the Forks on Sunday, November 3rd, from Noon to 4 p.m.
For more information on cycling in Manitoba, visit the The Manitoba Cycling Association.