PORT ANGELES — If you want to see an interesting, albeit a little bit weird, sport new to the Olympic Peninsula, head on out to the Extreme Sports Park this weekend to watch some cyclocross.
Cyclocross is a cycling event that requires competitors to ride through mud, sand, stairs, over obstacles and up hills so steep that the cyclists often have to pick up their bikes and carry them through “portage” sections. It’s an old sport going back to the 1800s and is wildly popular in Europe.
Cyclocross is also a winter event, so a lot of professional cyclists who ride in the Tour de France, etc., use cyclocross for crossfit offseason training.
Peninsula Adventure Sports is partnering with ESP to put on the “Extreme CX Port Angeles” event just west of Port Angeles, with races going from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The group, which also puts on the Gravel Unravel, the GOAT Run and the Big Hurt, gave the ESP a tryout during some demonstration races held in March.
What did Peninsula Adventure Sports race director Lorrie Mittmann learn about cyclocross during that March event?
“That’s it was really a lot of fun,” she said.
Mittmann said that while some of the distance events PAS puts on aren’t great for spectators because much of those races are off in the forests and mountains, cyclocross “is a great spectator sport.”
Parking will be free out at ESP for Saturday and Sunday. There will be food trucks and bonfires for people to stay warm.
Spectators can expect to see a lot of competitors completely covered in mud and slop.
Cyclocross is nothing if not messy. PAS is even putting in a sand pit.
“They can try to ride through it if they want,” Mittmann said.
Other groups involved in organizing this event include the Washington State Bicycle Association and Cyclocross Crusade based out of Portland, Ore. The Sunday race is the 2021 Washington State Bicycle Association regional championship and the event is a USA Cycling-sanctioned race.
The course was designed by Kevin Blair of Cyclocross Crusade and is being built by local volunteers and paid workers. After Saturday’s races, the course will be taken apart and obstacles moved around to create an entirely new course for Sunday.
“We’ll probably be working in the dark,” Mittmann said.
Mittmann said ESP owners Dan and Kelie Morrison have been instrumental in making the event happen.
“The Morrisons have been great to work with,” she said.
Riders will receive prizes such as a six-pack of beer, medals and in Sunday’s event, jerseys.
For a schedule of events, go to https://tinyurl.com/PAcyclocross2021. There is also registration information as race pre-registrations will be taken until Friday.
Results will be posted at https://www.crossresults.com.