Higher Gear Does CX

The cool weather and rain have arrived just in time to welcome cyclocross season to Chicago.

What Is Cyclocross?

Chicago Cyclocross Cup CCC Hopkins Park Andre OdendaalGaining 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.


Gearhead Cyclocross

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.

Dan Ryan Woods Chicago Cyclocross Cup CCC 2012 Higher Gear GearheadsDon’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.)


Spectating CX

Chicago Cyclocross Cup CCC 2012 State Championship Racing Cycling Montrose Higher Gear Mariachi Band GearheadCyclocross 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.)


Chicago Cyclocross Cup CCC Racing State CX Championship Montrose Higher Gear Gearheads Mariachi Todd Ricketts Brendan Sullivan


CCC Rules

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.


CCC Chicago Cyclocross Cup 2012 Illinois Championship Montrose CX Higher Gear Gearhead Will Frame


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)


Cyclocross Cyclocross Cup CCC 2010 Montrose


CX Nationals

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.





Further Reading

For more about cyclocross:




Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

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