|Princeton Valley Cyclocross Race Pictures|
As the days grow shorter and the weather becomes less bike friendly, many road riders in and around Eau Claire switch to riding the terrific mountain bike trails at Lowes Creek and Northwest Parks. Off road riding is slower and the trees help block the wind, so the cooler air has less of an impact, making the rides more comfortable.
We have another option, though: Cyclocross! Cyclocross is a mixture of road and off road riding that also includes barriers and other obstacles, which can not be ridden, so the bike must be carried or pushed. I know what you are thinking, but it is actually a very fun way for riders to maintain fitness later in the year and continue to enjoy the camaraderie of other riders. Cyclocross races are shorter than the races that occur earlier in the year, lasting anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The best part about cyclocross races is the festival atmosphere that goes with them. Given all of these benefits, cyclocross has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last few years.
The Chippewa Valley Cycling Club has put on a fun, fairly informal race the last two Octobers and EC Velo did an underground 3 race series this fall dubbed GhettoCross. Overdrive Cycling decided to take advantage of this wave of popularity by teaming up with Yankee Jack’s at Princeton Valley, Point Beer and Lee Beverages to put on a cyclocross race the Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend, with the goal of raising money for the Feed My People Food Bank. Brian Carpenter came forward with a $1000 donation to get things off the ground and Overdrive Cycling agreed to take on the costs of promoting and putting on the race. Under the direction of Matt Tietz, Bob Schwartz, Andrew Gierke and Chris Magyar the group developed a course that minimized impact to the golf course while still providing an interesting and fun 1.25 mile route that took advantage of the terrain and features of the area including running the Foot Sucking Sand trap, riding the pine tree Tunnel of Doom and jumping over the Ditch of Death. To add to the festivities, Melissa and Logan Tietz even decorated one of the pine trees in the field.
Attendance is always the biggest concern for any race, and weather has a big impact, so hosting a race at the end of November brings with it significant risk. Fortunately, weather Sunday was perfect for cyclocross, cloudy with north west winds and temperatures in the mid 30′s. To add to the draw, Yankee Jacks served creamed turkey over biscuits to all of the racers and Point Beer and Lee Beverage donated a commemorative mug filled with the racers favorite beverage. Everyone was happy with 43 racers, including very fast people from the Twin Cities, Madison and Ashland. With the finish right in front of Yankee Jack’s, fans on the deck and in the dining room had a terrific view of nearly the entire course. Three races were held, a 30 minute race for Beginner Men, Beginner Women and Juniors, a 45 minute for Men, Elite Women, Single Speed and a 60 minute race for Elite Men. All of the races were hotly contested and pretty much everyone stayed around for the drawing of the door prizes donated by Eau Claire Bike and Sport and Spring Street Sports of Chippewa Falls. A big thanks to all of the volunteers, including Linda Slowiak, Ann Franke, Chris Magyar, Andrew Gierke, Sam Hughes, Tristan Bentzler, Matt Tietz, Bob Schwartz, Jeff Sorenson and Jim Blodgett.