Based on early registration, more than 400 racers are expected to compete this weekend in the first Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championships at Badger Prairie Park in Verona.
Bike racing in the depths of winter may seem unthinkable to many, but cold, snowy, muddy and generally unpleasant are perfect conditions for the cowbell contingent that has made cyclocross one of the fastest growing disciplines in the country.
Races sanctioned by USA Cycling increased from 237 in 2005 to 468 last year. The number of registered racers nearly tripled, from 31,828 to 89,470, over the same time period.
Locally, the Wisconsin Cycling Association series expanded to 16 races this year, and hosting the Midwest Regionals and National Championships solidifies the state’s stature as a hotbed of the sport.
Team Sports Inc. is the promoter/organizer of both major events.
The principals, including Tom Schuler, created BadgerCross with a dual purpose: work out the kinks for the nationals and build a top-level event to match the likes of JingleCross in Iowa and the US Gran Prix races in Madison, Louisville and Fort Collins.
With $4,000 in prize money in play in Badger Prairie Park, the regional championships should draw riders from surrounding states to compete with the top riders from Wisconsin.
Pelotonstar.com reports that the top spots in several categories for the WCA series championships will be on the line.
"In the Men's Pro 1/2 division, Matt Shriver (3D Racing) leads Chad Hartley (Kenda Pro) by a mere 2 points, 195 to 193
"Shriver, the new WI State 'Cross Champion has won the last four races, so this may be just a formality, but Hartley has the talent and the pedigree to make this a horse race to the very end.
"In the Women's Category 2 division, Alyssa Severn (Cyclocrossracing.com) leads her teammate Abby Strigel by 5 points.
"While Strigel has seven wins this cyclocross season, winning the last five over Severn, it is not over quite yet as Severn has beaten Strigel once this season, so again, this could also come down to the last race. If that weren't enough, a similar situation has developed in the Men's Cat. 4 division, but this time with three racers, each with wins this season and the experience to make the upset."
Racing starts with the junior categories at 9 a.m. Saturday and the single-speed races at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The women’s pro group takes the start line at 1:15 p.m. both days, and the men follow at 2:15.
The course is a 1.9-mile layout with 100 feet of elevation gain over park trails, grass, steep hills, mud and an assortment of obstacles.