Come fall, Gearheads’ thoughts turn to cyclocross. 2016 is no exception.
With Labor Day weekend behind us, we may have only just entered the “unofficial” start of fall, but fall cyclocross is already on our brain. In Chicagoland, the ever-fun xXx Relay Cross unofficially kicked off our season in August, with the Chicago Cyclocross Cup races soon following. For those new to cyclocross (or who have never even heard of it before) or for those looking for a FUN CX team in the Chicagoland area, we’ve put together this helpful information for you.
We hope to see you out at the races!
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 racers 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 the CCC events. More importantly, we always have a good time. 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 #11530
- 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.)
- Beginners register under Category 5. (See more below about racing categories and upgrades.)
(To Come) Check out Higher Gear staff’s “must haves” for the 2016 cyclocross season >>
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.
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.
2016 CCC Schedule
All races are held on Sunday unless otherwise noted. Visit Chicago Cyclocross Cup website for the complete schedule and map.
08/28/16 – xXx CX Relay, Jackson Park – NOT part of the CCC series
09/11/16 – LaBagh Woods
10/02/16 – Hopkins Park
10/09/16 – Dan Ryan Woods
10/16/16 – Carpenter Park
10/23/16 – ABD Sunrise Park
10/30/16 – Campton Cross
11/06/16 – Psi-clocross For Life
11/12/16 – Hilton Indian Lakes Resort – Day 1 – SATURDAY
11/13/16 – Hilton Indian Lakes Resort – Day 2
11/20/16 – Melas Park Basin Racin’
12/04/16 – Montrose Harbor – State CX Championship
12/17/16 – Afterglow, Douglas Park, Chicago, IL – SATURDAY, NOT part of the CCC series
12/17/16 – Midwest Regional CX Championships, Sun Prairie, WI – SATURDAY, NOT part of the CCC series
12/18/16 – Awards Party – EJ’s Place in Skokie
(To Come) The races in bold are those where Higher Gear will provide support and heckling.
CCC Race Times
Note: race times and durations have changed since the 2013 CX season.
8:30am – Masters 35+ (40 min)
9:25am – Masters 45+ (40 min)
9:27am – Masters 55+ (40 min)
10:20am – Single Speed (35 min)
10:22am – Junior 15-18 (35 min)
11:10am – Women Cat 4 (30 minutes)
11:12am – Junior 9-14 (30 minutes)
11:40am – Course Inspection (15 minutes)
11:55am – Cat 3 (45 minutes)
12:55pm – Women Cat 1/2/3 (45 minutes)
1:55pm – Cat 1/2/3 (60 minutes)
3:10pm – Cat 4 (30 minutes)
3:55pm – Cat 4/5 (30 minutes)
We enjoyed two years of National Championships in our backyard in Madison, WI in 2012 and 2013. This season, the Midwest Regional CX Championships will be held in Sun Prairie, WI on December 17th. The US CX National Championships will be held in Hartford, CT January 3rd – 8th.
For more about cyclocross:
- Visit Chicago Cyclocross Cup website for complete schedule and more details.
- Read our recap of the 2014 Cyclocross National Championship.
- Check out our recap of the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, KY.
- Check out our recap of the 2013 Cyclocross National Championships in Madison, WI.
- See our race reports from the Gearhead’s 2013 and 2012 seasons.
- 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.
Need Help? Have Questions?
Wilmette | 847-256-2330