Cyclocross riders ready to fly through park this weekend

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
(Sentinel file photo) A cyclocross racer speeds around a corner after climbing a hill at the Le Mars cyclocross race last December, when several inches of snow fell. This year's cyclocross race will be held this weekend, and cyclists of all experience levels are invited to give the off-road bicycle race a try.

Trek through miry mud. Climb steep hills. Climb over barriers and obstacles.

And do it all on a bike.

The second annual Le Mars Frosty Cross cyclocross race is set for this weekend, and bikers of all ages and experience levels are invited to the Le Mars Municipal Park to give it a try.

There will be two days of off-road bicycle endurance races: Saturday and Sunday.

Beginners and less-experienced cyclocross riders can try the Division B race at noon both days.

Experienced cyclocross racers will compete in the Division A race at 2 p.m.

And young people (6-12) can try a shorter youth race which will take place between the two.

In all races, males and females race together.

Cyclocross racing involves bicycling several laps around an off-road course that can include everything from mud and sand to obstacles that force the rider to get off his or her bike and carry it over.

Riders in the two Frost Cross adult races will race for about 45 minutes and compete for the highest number of laps, which are each a little longer than 1 mile.

"The winner will ride the most laps in the shortest amount of time," explained Mark Strub, of Bike Central bicycle shop in Le Mars, who is helping coordinate the race.

The youth race will be 20 minutes only and will likely be on a little shorter and easier course, Strub said.

"We want to let them get a taste of it and have fun with it," he said.

The race organizers prefer to host Frosty Cross the first weekend in December -- last year it snowed heavily, which added to the adventure -- but this year another race was slated for that weekend.

That's why they moved it to this weekend, Nov. 10-11.

"I don't think it will snow this year," Strub said with a laugh.

Last year about 30 people competed in the Le Mars cyclocross event, and plenty more came out to watch.

And that was with only about 2 1/2 weeks of planning time for the organizers. This time, they've been looking ahead all year to this event.

Having 100 riders, plus their support people, would be a great turnout, Strub said.

"We'd love to have more local people ride," he said. "This is a really cool change of pace to get off the road."

People don't need to have a special kind of bike or special equipment to race in Frosty Cross.

They just need to wear a helmet and should dress appropriately for the weather.

The event is free to watch.

All are invited to the Le Mars Municipal Park this weekend to enjoy seeing the racers compete.

"It's kind of intense and it's fun to watch," Strub said. "We'd love to see as many people come as possible."

Organizers are also looking for a few volunteers to stand around the course to help point racers in the right direction and pedestrians stay out of the way of oncoming bicycles.

New at this year's event, organizers are planning to have a wheel pit for cyclists to change a wheel if they need to and a wash bay to clean up, Strub said.

"We're still building the course, adding a few tweaks here and there," Strub said. "We're adding a few more 18-inch barriers, probably adding a couple of short, steep climbs to the parking lot, taking them through a portion of the trail around the south pond. Hopefully we'll be able to add a stretch of mud."

Strub said he's guessing with this year's dry weather, riders will have fast races on the Le Mars cyclocross course compared to others.

Prizes will be awarded to the Frosty Cross top finishers.

There is a fee to compete in the adult cyclocross races each day, but youth can compete in the youth race if they just bring a can of food, which will be donated to the Christian Needs Center, Strub said.

Also, people competing both Saturday and Sunday can get a discount, he said.

New this year -- Frosty Cross is a sanctioned race with USA Cycling.

"By sanctioning the event, it helped us market it to farther out," Strub said. "We marketed it in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin."

Because the event is sanctioned, riders have to have a one-day USA Cycling license and liability policy, which costs about $13 for the day, Strub said.

This may be the first sanctioned cyclocross races in western Iowa, he said.

"We're excited to be on the cutting edge," Strub said.

Officials will be on hand to manage the races, Strub said.

One of those officials will be Gehlen Catholic School alum Larry Martin, he added.

Frosty Cross has received a lot of community support, Strub said.

"Businesses have chipped in to help defray the costs," he said.

As Frosty Cross grows, it will bring more people to Le Mars for the two-day event, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, watching movies at the theater and even bowling, Strub said.

"We're going to kind of showcase Le Mars," he said.

Plymouth County Cyclists have been instrumental as co-sponsors of the event, Strub noted.

The city of Le Mars also has been generous in allowing the use of the park grounds, he added.

Race registration will be at the indoor shelter house in the Le Mars Municipal Park, which can be accessed on Park Lane, off of either Highway 3 north or Fourth Avenue Northeast.

Same-day registration begins at 11 a.m. in the shelter, or people can register ahead of time online at

Results and hot chocolate will also be available at the park shelter this weekend, Strub said.

People who want more information about the event or want to volunteer to help can contact Strub or other organizers at 540-7076.

Volunteers can also show up the day of the race at the park at about 11 a.m.

Organizers are already looking ahead to next year's Frosty Cross, plotting an even crazier course.

"We're trying to grow it, make it bigger and better," Strub said. "The more challenging you can make it, the more people it will draw."

Organizers see Frosty Cross as a growing community event, he said.

"We're trying to make it something where people can see a little bit of what Le Mars is all about," Strub said. "It's a little bit of an off-season event, so hopefully people will have another reason to come to town at a different time of year."

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