Bicycle riders love the fall - the colorful landscape, the cool crisp air and the smell of nature …. Ahhhhh.
Now add a zig zag course with a splash of mud, sprinkle in some grass, a handful of barriers and wrap everything in spandex … Yee-haw, now you got yourself a cyclocross race! HoliMont will host its 2nd annual cyclocross race on Sunday, October 22 … dubbed HoliCX2.
Cyclocross? Yes, cyclocross. It’s not your average bicycle race.
There are many stories of how cyclocross racing got its start. It’s kind of like the origins of snowboarding - there is always some old-timer claiming to be the first. “Yeah I remember when I rode my bike through a field and then jumped over a fence while a crazy bull was chasing me. Next thing you know they went and made a race out of it.”
The true origins of cross trace back to Europe, and by most accounts, it was a way to train during the off-season for long bicycle races like the Tour De France. In 1910 Belgium hosted the first national cyclocross championship and in 1924, Paris, France was the location of the first international race, Le Critérium International de Cross-Country Cyclo-Pédestre. As it goes with most organized competitions, they end up being governed by a group of rule makers, and in 1950, UCI regulated its first cyclocross race which happened to be the world championships in Paris. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that cross racing got some traction in the U.S. Participation grew through the 90’s bike boom and is still growing today. Boulder, Colorado has become a hot bed for cross and hosts numerous races and events throughout the year.
As for our local scene, there are many sponsors and promoters holding races all over Western New York. Two years ago, local legend and racer John Roden had the idea of combining the popular cross races in the area into an overall series with a focus on families. WNY Cross Series (www.wnycyclocross.com) was born. There are classes for all ages and abilities; a wonderful way to get the whole family active and outdoors. Great friendships and rivalries have formed over the years, and I can tell you first-hand that it is amazing to watch many young riders transform into young competitive adults. There’s nothing more rewarding (and defeating) than getting beat by a kid who you watched start on training wheels.
As the Marketing Director for HoliMont, I am always looking for new ways to showcase the club. There were no cyclocross races in Ellicottville, but I knew that there was a huge contingency of riders in the area including members of the club. When I pitched the idea of bringing cyclocross to HoliMont last year, I wasn’t sure how the idea would be received, but by the end of August 2016, we were mapping out a course, had a couple of sponsors and buy-in from the board. The first race was held during Ellicottville’s Fall Festival and it drew in 100 registered racers from all over. Although the event experienced cold and damp conditions, the race was a huge success. The course offered challenging lines and features with the fall foliage creating a magnificent backdrop. The balance of a good course comes from good flow, unique features and a high level of suffering. You know you did your job well when racers love and hate you all at the same time. One of the best photos from the race was of three veteran racers sitting on the grass, covered in mud looking completely drained but smiling the whole time. Many people have compared grueling bike races to hitting yourself in the head repeatedly with a hammer … it feels so good when you stop.
So, if you like bikes and are looking for a challenge, sign up for this year’s race. If you like to watch other people suffer where heckling and cow bells are not only allowed but encouraged, then mark your calendar for Oct. 22. This year’s race will take place a couple weeks after Fall Festival to allow us to focus on the race event by itself. Registration details, times of events and other information can be found online at www.bikereg.com. If you’re the type to wait till the last minute, we will have day-of-registration open at 8:30am race day. Racing, parking and spectators will all enter at the WestMont entrance located at Ridgeway drive, off Route 242. There will be a fun kids course free to all racers ages 8 and under. All other racers will need a valid USAC license or buy a one-day license for $10 on top of the registration fee. Did I mention socks? The first 100 people to register get a free pair of HoliMont bicycle socks!
For more information or if you would like to set up on vendor row, please call HoliMont at 716-699-2320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.