POSTED: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 9:04am
BATON ROUGE, LA — Fans of off-road cycling need not look as far as BREC’s mountain bike trails at Comite and Hooper Parks anymore. Coming October 26, Highland Road Park will host the second race of the Delta States Grand Prix of Cyclocross (DSGP), sponsored by New Belgium Brewing. Riders will tackle a course consisting of dirt, grass, gravel, and various obstacles while spectators view the action up close in a festive tailgate-style atmosphere. With music, beer, and racers slipping in mud, the Baton Rouge leg of DSGP promises to be a wild time for all.
Organized by Wes McWhorter, DSGP will be the region’s first large-scale unified series of cyclocross races, with 5 dates scheduled from October to December across Louisiana and Mississippi. McWhorter’s stated goal is to introduce what he considers to be the most fun and approachable form of bicycle racing to a region that is not known as a hotbed of competitive cycling. “This is a gateway sport,” McWhorter says, “it’s unintimidating, accessible, and easy to get hooked on.”
Originating in Belgium, cyclocross was born in the early 20th century out of steeplechases, impromptu races from one town to the next. Predictably the most prominent feature visible on a skyline, the church steeple was the point of orientation by which racers aimed to cut a straight line from A to B. This “straight” line would frequently cut across fields, over fences, through creekbeds, and other difficult passages for bicycle, as if poorly paved early 20th century roads were not impassible enough. The discipline became popular, and over time, its own race format with modern courses emulating these obstacles.
Spectators are as much a part of cyclocross racing as the racers themselves. Cheering, heckling, or otherwise raising ruckus, cyclocross fans have earned a reputation for being an exciting and sometimes rowdy bunch. Typically armed with a cowbell, the official noisemaker of ‘cross, they come prepared to be heard by one and all. Be sure to bring your outside voice.
October 26th’s race will be officially sanctioned, governed by officials from USACycling, the officiating body of competitive cycling. A USAC license is required to race, and single-day licenses will be sold at the race for $10. Entry fee for the race itself will be $25 in advance, $30 day of. Races will be held in several USAC categories, and will also include a free kids’ "race" of one lap for pint-sized cyclists. More information on the race is available on DSGP’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/deltastatesgrandprix , and in the cyclocross section of www.yeahyouride.com .