Gearheads are used to traveling all over the metropolitan Chicagoland area during cyclocross season. Chicago Cyclocross Cup locations reach northwest to Woodstock, west to Dekalb and south to Dan Ryan Woods. Cyclocross bikes spend more time on the back of the car than they do tearing through the terrain on these fall weekends.
Such was not the case this past Saturday when the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race premiered in Evanston. In fact, many Gearheads were able to roll out of bed and hop on their bikes to get to the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course. While they could ride over to the race start, others opted to drive so they could bring their families to an event (finally!) so close to home.
Gearheads weren’t the only ones who took advantage of a race in their backyards. Teams from our neighboring bike shops came out en force. Friends representing the Pony Shop and Velosmith teams were in the fields of just about every race of the day.
Chicago teams even made it up to our north shore suburbs for the day. We were delighted to have Spidermonkeys swing by en route back from their Saturday morning group ride to cheer on their teammates who were racing with us. And you can’t have a race in the Chicagoland area without seeing the ubiquitous xXx jerseys. They didn’t disappoint us Saturday, dominating the podium of the Cat 4/5 race.
Then there were those who traveled across state lines for the race. We had racers registered from as far as Pennsylvania and California. We had quite a few who came down from Wisconsin and several cross over from Indiana.
In a nod to the Blues Brothers, a friend of the Gearheads who drove up from Indianapolis started the day with this post: “It’s 178 miles to Evanston. We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of embro and a flask of Hammer Nutrition. It’s dark and we’re wearing protective eye wear.”
In all, there were 282 people registered to race in Higher Gear’s inaugural cyclocross race. Consistent with the CCC races, the Cat 4/5 field sold out a day before pre-registration closed.
Because we wanted to encourage new riders to cyclocross, the course was designed to minimize the intimidation factor that’s present in a lot of nearby races.
There weren’t a lot of technical areas – one off-camber turn and a quick turn before the “hole shot” through the bridge across the canal. Obstacles included four low logs and two berms that could be approached without dismounting. One area of sand had most newcomers running with their bikes, but the seasoned racers could power through.
Speaking of power, we all know by now that cyclocross racing is never easy. The challenge comes either from the course or the weather. With a perfect fall day, that meant the challenge was up to the course. Lacking in technical sections, the course demanded power – even more so because of the soft grass that makes up a golf course. This course definitely favored racers who could keep pedaling through those long straight-aways.
That said, our goal to get newcomers to come out worked. 56 of the racers purchased a one-day USA Cycling license. Even Higher Gear customer Stacey Woehrle couldn’t resist giving cx racing a try on her mountain bike.
Stacey was one of 36 women who raced with us on Saturday. Then we had 35 Juniors, aged 10-18. In all, we had racers spanning from 10 years old to 77!
Some even used the occasion to get the whole family on the course. The Norman family, racing for both the Pony Shop in Evanston and Team Extreme in Wisconsin, wins the award for having the most family members racing throughout the day – seven in all! The family that races together…
Those who took advantage of the perfect fall day and Higher Gear’s inaugural cyclocross race weren’t the only ones who benefit from the local race. Proceeds from the race were donated to the Evanston Wilmette Golf Association. In addition to benefiting the golf course financially, the event also fit into the organization’s mission to support recreational, social and athletic sports on the banks of the channel. The bike race fit the Association’s vision of the facility as a “multi-use green space” – for golf and other outdoor activities on a year-round basis.
We know we’re a little biased, but we’ve received nothing but positive feedback from those who came out to join us on Saturday. We appreciate your gratitude, but really, the race wouldn’t have been a success if you didn’t come out to race and cheer – so thank YOU! As for the praise, well, we’ll never shy away from that. Keep it coming!
And if we hear it enough, we may be persuaded to coordinate another local race in the future. It’s a win-win!
Higher Gear Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross race rocked. Nice family event situated on the Evanston Golf course with a cozy hometown USA feel. – Omar Patalinghug
Great race yesterday. Thanks Higher Gear! – Matt Grosspietsch
Great event and a beautiful day! – Margaret Igoe
The race was awesome, can’t say it enough. – Eric Turner
Thanks to @HigherGearBikes for bringing CX local! Good course and good times! – Pony Shop Lou (on Twitter)
- View the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race results and race-day photos.
- Check out the write-up of the R&B Revue CX Race in Evanston Now.
- Follow the link to learn more about cyclocross or how to join the Gearhead Cyclocross Team.
- Not interested in racing? See why cyclocross is a great spectator sport.
- To learn about more fun events at Higher Gear, to meet our customers and to stay on top of latest cycling trends and gear, sign up to stay connected with Higher Gear’s weekly newsletter.
- Like us on Facebook page to stay on top of breaking news in our shops.
To see just how much fun Gearhead cyclocross is, check out our race reports and photos from this year’s CCC races: