With the shift in the US cyclocross calendar comes a longer season and riders in California are no strangers to longer cycling seasons. This weekend in Bakersfield, the 2nd Annual NorCal vs. SoCal State Cyclocross Championships will be held in conjunction with the season finale for the SoCal Prestige Series. This end of season extravaganza, with beer tents, $ 6,500 in prize money, Belgian Frites and hot cross racing action will provide an excellent opportunity for the two regions of the Golden State to mix it up and battle for bears and bragging rights. With NorCal taking numerous National and Masters World Championship titles, they are hungry to take the regional title. Last year NorCal won many races, but SoCal won with a few more riders. This year’s event will include individual titles as well as the for fun regional title. The 1.6 mile course features a very European flair with a good balance of twists, turns, straight-aways and the ever popular “Lobster Launch Pad” flyover and the “Lightspeed Leg Buster” run up. With over 60 days of no rain, rain is in the forecast for both days….and as with all cross, it is welcome.
Racing action takes place Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm and races run rain or shine!
History and Story Behind the Event
Cyclocross is a unique form of cycling that takes place mostly off road on bicycles that are hybrids of road and mountain bikes. The courses are about 1.5 miles in length and feature varied terrain and places where riders must dismount their bicycle and run over obstacles. It is a very spectator friendly and fun form of racing for all and most races last 45 minutes to an hour.
Held at Hart Memorial Park in Bakersfield and has hosted cross for over 20 years. The race is hosted by the Kern Wheelmen Bicycle Club and race director Sam Ames. His passion for cross runs deep and he came up with this idea over 20 years ago. “I was racing in Santa Cruz as much as I could back then, it was the only cyclocross racing there was really, until a few events sprung up in the LA area” said Ames. As SoCal cross grew, Ames knew well the depth of the road riders, mountain bike riders and sheer volume of racers in SoCal. He felt it was a matter of time before SoCal cross took off. “I thought that a race for the whole state would be a blast… SoCal cross was coming along, and why not have a big for fun throw-down someday. Along with the races I did in Bakersfield, Brad House and Dorothy Wong started doing events in LA and it has exploded from there. This event is the fruition of ALL the promoters from California who host cross events, NorCal or SoCal. They have helped create the powerhouse that is in California cross.” As SoCal continues to grow and get stronger, NorCal has been one of the strongest regions in the country, winning National and World titles annually. On a local level, their races see attendance in the 400 range consistently. “Last year and our first year the response and feedback was overwhelming….and that’s why I do it. Racers and fans came out and had a blast…we had over 200 riders and 1000 spectators. I know folks that race a bunch were tired, some had traveled and raced so much. I value their support but really the race is for them. This year looks to be even bigger. Many of the riders and fans went back home and told their friends “You DO NOT want to miss this race!” I just love the sport and I hope we get some of the newly crowned National Champs and World Champs to come mix it up. We’ve put countless hours and 15K into this race….come eat, drink, race and enjoy.”
Photo © Kenneth Hill / Light & Shadows Photography