The cool weather and rain have arrived just in time to welcome cyclocross season to Chicago.
What Is Cyclocross?
Gaining worldwide popularity, cyclocross is a form of bicycle racing that originated in the early 1900’s as a way for European road races to keep in shape during the autumn and winter months. Racers would participate in “steeplechase” type events (named for the church steeple, often the only visible landmark and thus the finish line), cutting through fields, over fences and other obstacles in a race to the next town.
In translating the original town-to-town races onto a 1.5-2 mile-long course, the course crosses pavement, wooded trails, grass, gravel and steep hills, and those obstacles are now recreated with wooden barriers that require racers to quickly dismount and carry their bikes.
The autumn-winter season means that cyclocross is still a great way for cyclists to keep in shape before the spring road season. The bike handling skills required to navigate the varying terrain and conditions can enhance road bike handling. Cyclocross has, however, achieved a popularity of its own. Some racers choose to specialize in cyclocross. In fact, many of our Gearheads train year-round for the Chicago Cyclocross Cup (CCC) season, which is about to begin.
Team Higher Gear, affectionately called the Gearheads, has enjoyed strong showings in their first three years, always placing well in the top 15% of the teams out there. There may be better teams out there but no team has more fun! And we always have room for more.
The Gearheads are about good times, fun times. If you’re interested in racing with us, join the Google Group Gearhead Cyclocross to get the latest updates on clinics, races and tips. Our team is also very active on Facebook.
To be part of the Gearhead team, you must commit to three races in the CCC series and purchase a Gearhead kit. In exchange, you’ll enjoy our support at six of the CCC events (see below), including the best post-race food by our master chef Brendan, a team discount at Higher Gear and our adoration. Oh, and you’ll have a blast! We promise.
Don’t forget to register under Higher Gear’s Team:
- Register under Higher Gear, team number 11520
- Get an annual license from USA Cycling so that your points are included in the overall Higher Gear Team points. (Those racing under a day license cannot attach their points to a team.)
- New for this year, beginners register under Category 5. (See more below about racing categories and upgrades.)
Cyclocross is a spectator-friendly and family-friendly event. Racers take several trips around a winding course, offering spectators the chance to see them from one spot or from several quite easily. Cheering and heckling have become a sport in themselves. Pack your vuvuzela, cowbell, bullhorn and bacon-wrapped treats to taunt and tempt the 5’s as they go by.
Team Higher Gear’s Gearheads are supported with a (sometimes heated) tent, cowbells, food, refreshments, musical entertainment, mechanical support and a loud cheering section. Check out our Race Reports from the 2011 and 2012 Chicago Cyclocross Cup season under News & Tips. (Hint: search for cx or cyclocross.)
New for this year, beginners register under Category 5. Category 4/5 races are for those out to have fun in a less competitive format. If you have several races under your belt and have developed some CX skills, it’s time to give someone else a crack and for you to move up.
While the CCC does not force upgrades, USA Cycling has updated their mandatory upgrades as follows:
- Cat 5 to Cat 4: Experience in 10 qualifying races is a mandatory upgrade.
- Cat 4 to Cat 3: Voluntary upgrade with 10 points. Fifteen points or two wins if the field had at least 30 competitors is a mandatory upgrade. *
- Cat 3 to Cat 2: Voluntary upgrade with 15 points. Twenty points or two wins if the field had at least 30 competitors is a mandatory upgrade. *
- Cat 2 to Cat 1: Voluntary upgrade with 20 points. Twenty-five points or two wins if the field had at least 40 competitors is a mandatory upgrade.
* Juniors are exempt from this mandatory upgrade
For more details about the CCC series rules, check out their helpful FAQs.
2013 CCC Schedule
All races are held on Sunday unless otherwise noted. Visit Chicago Cyclocross Cup website for the complete schedule and map.
9/29 – Jackson Park
10/6 – Hopkins Park
10/13 – Dan Ryan Woods
10/19 – Psycho Cross – (Saturday)
10/20 – Carpenter Park
10/27 – ABD Sunrise Park
11/3 – Campton Cross – (Halloween!)
11/10 – Psi-clocross For Life
11/16 – Hilton Indian Lakes Resort – Day 1 – (Saturday)
11/17 – Hilton Indian Lakes Resort – Day 2
11/24 – Melas CX- Basin Racin’
12/7 – Montrose Harbor – State CX Championship (Day 1)
12/8 – Montrose Harbor – State CX Championship (Day 2)
The six highlighted races are those where Higher Gear will provide support. And entertainment.
CCC Race Times
8:45am – Masters 40+ (45 min)
9:45am – Masters 30+ (45 min)
9:48am – Single Speed (45 min)
10:45am – Women Cat 1/2/3 (45 min) [Cat 3’s overall scored separately]
10:48am – Masters 50+ (45 min) [Masters 60+ overall scored separately]
11:45am – Cat 3 (45 min)
12:45pm – Women Cat 4 (30 min)
12:48pm – Junior 15-18 (30 min)
12:48:30pm – Junior 10-14 (30 min)
1:30pm – Cat 1/2/3 (60 min)
2:45pm – Cat 4 (30 min)
3:30pm – Cat 4/5 (30 min)
Sadly, the National Championships are no longer in our backyard. After enjoying two years in Madison, WI, the US CX National Championship is moving to Boulder, Colorado. They will take place January 9th – 12th, 2014.
For more about cyclocross:
- Visit Chicago Cyclocross Cup website for complete schedule and more details.
- Check out our recap of the 2012 Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, KY.
- Check out our recap of the 2012 Cyclocross National Championships in Madison, WI.
- See our race reports from the Gearheads’ 2012 season.
- Don’t hesitate to “Jump in to Cyclocross.” Check out how one Gearhead got started.
- SRAM at Cyclocross Nationals
- Disc brakes at Cyclocross Nationals.
- What to wear for CX
- Staff recommendations for cyclocross gear.