Going Loco for Cyclo

Voice-Tribune Intern

The city of Louisville is no stranger to watching athletes run around a short track, we even throw a month-long festival for it in the spring. But maybe a less well-known racing event than the Derby, is the annual Cyclocross event here in Louisville. The Louisville community has been involved with cycling and cyclocross events for years. Many in the community have been a part of several cycling events hosted in Louisville, and now there’s an event in town that looks to expand the reach of the sports and gain interest from the wider community.

The Louisville Sports Commission is hosting the eighth annual Derby City Cup Cyclocross event Nov. 8-9. The event includes many races for different age groups, as well as two elite level races and a 5K foot race. This is all part of getting the Louisville community more involved with cycling and cyclocross. This year, the Louisville Sports Commission has partnered with Cadence Sports to take over as promoters, owners and operators of the event.

“Over the past seven years, the Derby City Cup and Eva Bandman Park have attained a high level of allure and respect amongst the cycling world,” said Gary Metcalf, president of Cadence Sports. “This, coupled with the enormous growth of cyclocross in the United States and Louisville’s commitment to excellence, made for an easy decision for Cadence to become involved.”

In February of 2013, Louisville was host to the UCI Cyclocross World Championships. This was maybe the most notable of the cycling events hosted in town. Others include the 2012 and 2013 UCI Cyclocross Masters World Championships, five USA Cycling Road Masters Nationals and the USA BMX Derby City Nationals held from 2001 through 2011.

Cyclocross racing is a form of bicycle racing in which participants make many laps around a short track, dodging obstacles and rough terrain. The sport is most popular in Belgium, the Netherlands and France. The Derby City Cup Cyclocross event has grown to be more than a regional event, attracting national and some international interest.

This year’s event will be held in Eva Bandman Park, on River Road. The course will include hills and other obstacles. There will be 15 cycling races over the two days, for riders from youth up to elite levels. The most elite competitions will be the Category 1 and Category 2 races, which are internationally sanctioned level races. Female and male riders in those races will earn points towards their international ranking. The four elite races will be held at night, under artificial lighting. The rest of the races will be governed by Ohio Valley Cyclocross, and junior and master riders will earn points towards their OVCS standings. The women’s and men’s elite races will be at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, on Saturday night.

This year, they’ve added a foot race to the event for those who enjoy trail courses with more hills and obstacles. The 5K is called Run Eva Bandman. This race will start the festivities on Saturday morning.

The Louisville Sports Commission Executive Director Karl Schmitt hopes that this event continues to grow the cycling and cyclocross communities in Louisville.  Schmidt says a big draw for this race is the way the athletes battle the elements to compete.

“It’s easy to understand,” Schmitt said. “It’s a mad dash to the finish. We’re having the two elite races at night, so that’ll be a lot of fun to see and to watch. It’s all about the elements. It’s an outdoor sport. It takes place late in the year. So, whatever elements that Mother Nature brings, that’s what the cyclists have learned to deal with.”

In addition to being fun for cyclists and fans of the sport, the event has taken many steps to make this a fun, family event. Pets and children are allowed, and the event is free to attend and watch. There will be food trucks set up at the park and craft beer for sale. A portion of the actual cyclocross course goes through the beer tent. All of the excitement starts Saturday morning, Nov. 8 with the Run Eva Bandman 5K race. That race is followed by two, fun-filled days of cyclocross entertainment for the whole family.