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Friday, May 6, 2016

Racers power through local Frosty Cross course

Monday, November 12, 2012

A cyclocross racer leaps over a barricade on the Frosty Cross cyclocross race route during Saturday's Division A competition. Barricades like this one and other obstacles placed around the course kept cyclists hopping on and off their bicycles during each 45-minute race. About 50 riders participated, according to organizers.
Want to learn how to sweat when it's 30 degrees out with a 25 mph north wind?

Try riding cyclocross.

This past weekend, dozens of riders took their bikes off road for a grueling 45-minute race through sand, up dirt hills and over wooden barriers.

Frosty Cross 2012, the second annual fall/winter cyclocross race in Le Mars, was a success, according to organizers.

"A lot of people thought the course was really top notch," said Mark Strub, one of the event organizers. "We heard from a lot of riders that they thought this course was one of the best ones they've ridden all year."

Strub said the organizers were happy with the turnout.

"There were about 50 participants, over twice as many riders as one year ago," he said.

And Saturday, in the youth race, about 20 young riders participated.

"That was pretty cool race," Strub said.

Four more raced in Sunday's youth event.

The weekend cyclocross event pulled people in from around the region: Des Moines, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Sioux City.

A few locals grabbed their helmet and bike to race, too.

One of them is Zach Campbell, of Le Mars.

He raced in Saturday's Division A race, the tougher of two categories that raced each day.

The race course was killer, Campbell said.

Several times, cyclists had to pedal up long hills, and once they got to the top, had to lift their bicycles over 1 1/2-foot wooden barriers.

"It was very hard," Campbell said. "Keeping a steady pace is tough."

Cyclocross racing involves bicycling several laps around an off-road course with obstacles and challenges like a steep dirt downhill descent.

Riders this weekend raced for about 45 minutes, competing for the highest number of laps, which are each a little longer than 1 mile.

After 45 minutes, an official hits a bell, which announces to riders they have only one more lap.

The winner is the cyclist who rides the most laps in the shortest amount of time.

For Campbell, Saturday's race wasn't his first Cyclocross competition.

He rode in last year's winter race in Le Mars.

"Last year was a lot of fun, and there's a lot of good people out here for support," he said.

He also races as endurance training for riding motocross.

Campbell said he didn't even know how many laps he'd biked when the race time was up Saturday.

"I was just waiting for that bell," he said, laughing.

The Le Mars Municipal Park, where the race was held, offered a great setting for the weekend's races, Strub said.

The park's design seemed to be a natural spot for cyclocross, something race officials also noted, he said.

"There were natural challenges with the short rolling hills, open areas where you could get some speed and technical areas where you had to use skill," Strub said.

Monte Brent, of Le Mars, another event organizer, designed the race courses, which were different Saturday and Sunday.

"He's got a knack for it," Strub said. "Riders themselves were very impressed with the layout of the course."

Rows of large American flags outlined the stretch on the hill by the park's north pond.

"Being Veterans Day, we wanted to salute our troops," Strub said.

Cyclists appreciated the spectators cheering along the course as they made each lap.

"We sold cowbells if people wanted them, and people were buying a bell and cheering people on," Strub said.

The organizers thanked businesses that showed support for Frosty Cross, volunteers for helping put it on, and the city for allowing the races to be held in the Le Mars Municipal Park.

"We had 15-18 volunteers over the two days," Strub said.

Volunteers, friends and family members of the organizers also helped put up the course a few days ago, Strub said.

"We all think it was a good event," he said.

Organizers are already looking ahead to Frosty Cross 2013.

The excitement of the racers is giving the organizers momentum, Strub said.

"They're asking, pushing us to keep doing this, and they're willing to help us make it bigger by spreading the word," he said.

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