Cyclocross racing is a unique blend of road racing, mountain bike racing, coupled with obstacles such as wooden barriers and sand. Born in Europe in the early 1900s, cross (for short) came to United States after WWII and became more popular starting in the 1960s. In fact, one of the earliest cross races in the country was in 1963 in Palos.
Fast-forward almost 50 years to today. Cyclocross is the fastest growing discipline in the United States. Gone are the days of handmade cross bikes and toe clips. They’ve been replaced by carbon/aluminum frames and carbon tubular wheels. The top riders in cross are just as serious about their equipment as any other racer.
In Chicago, cross is thriving like never before, thanks in large part to the Chicago Cross Cup. This series of local cross races is now up to 10 races per season starting in late September and running through to early December with the state cross championships in Montrose Park in Chicago. The Wisconsin Cycling Association’s cross series just north of Chicago is also worth noting.
The series draws large crowds of racers, along with their friends, families and fans. The events are extremely competitive, yet a relaxed and party-like atmosphere pervades over the festivities, along with aromatic smoke from the barbeque grills.
All of the Chicago and Wisconsin cross races are USCF sanctioned, and require a license to participate.