Hartford’s Riverside Park will play host to the 2017 Cyclocross National Championships January 3-8, 2017, as another popular sport brings a national caliber event to Connecticut’s Capital City. “The cyclocross national championships are the pinnacle of cyclocross racing in the United States each year,” said Micah Rice, Vice-President of National Events, USA Cycling. Cyclocross is a very specific type of bike racing, as described by Cyclocross Magazine. For the most part, the course is off-road but there are sometimes portions of pavement included in the course. Riders can expect to encounter grass, dirt, mud, gravel, sand, and a whole slew of other assortments and combinations. The races are based on a set time (measured by numbers of laps), not distance. Depending on your category, a race can be as quick as 30 minutes (for beginners), or as long as 60 minutes (for pros).
‘Cross is wildly popular in countries like Belgium and Holland and is currently the fastest growing cycling discipline in the U.S., according to USA Cycling. Cyclo-cross specific bikes look very similar to a road bike but have more clearance around the tires for mud, have a different type of braking system — either a cantilever or disc brakes — and have wider tires with knobs on them similar to mountain bike tires.
The event schedule for Hartford details a range of competition for various age categories, men and women, 9-10 year olds to seniors, throughout the week, capped by awards ceremonies at the end of each day. The 2017 USAC National Cyclocross Championships is organized via a three-way partnership between the CT Cycling Advancement Program, Riverfront Recapture, and USA Cycling. As the local organizing committee (LOC), the CCAP and Riverfront are committed to hosting a high-quality event that supports and highlights both organization’s non-profit missions, the regional cycling community, and the city of Hartford, the organization's website explains. "Our responsibilities and activities include the management of the event venue, the management of emergency city services, the recruitment and management of volunteers, and fundraising for the event." Local volunteers are being sought, with a number of opportunities prior to and during the week-long Championships.
“The USA Cycling cyclocross national championships is an exciting first for Connecticut, and Hartford’s selection is the result of a great partnership between the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, Riverfront Recapture, the city of Hartford, and the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau,” said Bob Murdock, the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s director of sports marketing.
“Our state capital’s Riverside Park is a prime venue for this dynamic winter sports event and offers many design options for a challenging course that will satisfy thrill-seeking competitors and spectators alike. We look forward to welcoming cycling enthusiasts from all over the nation,” Murdock added.
According to the USA Cycling website, there are two cycling clubs in Connecticut, based in Middletown and Storrs. The UConn Cycling Team, based at the main campus in Storrs Connecticut, is a recognized club sports team and a member of both the ECCC (Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference) and USA Cycling.
The vision of USA Cycling is to make the United States of America the most successful country in the world of competitive cycling, and the championships planned for 2017 and 2018 underscore that effort. Reno, Nevada, will host the 2018 USA Cycling cyclocross national championships.
“Going from the East in 2017 to the West in 2018 with Hartford and Reno is indicative of how quickly the sport is spreading from coast to coast, and these two cities will do an excellent job of helping us crown the best in the sport in the coming years,” Rice said.
Connecticut has a long and storied heritage within cyclocross and the annual Connecticut Series of Cross series “seeks to continue that,” according to the 8-race series website. 2016 marks the 5th annual Connecticut Series of Cross, described as designed to encourage true "grassroots CX racing". All the events are unique and reflect the style and passion that each promoting club/team has for the sport of cyclocross.
The final event in the series will be December 18 in New Haven, just weeks ahead of the National Championship in Hartford.