Baltimore, Maryland — Hooglede-Gits. Wachtebeke. Baltimore? September 17-18, Belgian-style cyclocross racing arrives in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park for the seventh annual Charm City Cross. Record numbers of participants already pre-registered for Charm City Cross, a UCI 2 race and part of the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross (MAC) series, which promises to be the most well-attended series yet and welcomes several international competitors. So warm up the waffles, fry some frites, chill the Chimay, and ring the cowbells — Hampden’s Twenty 20 Cycling Company is bringing cyclocross to Baltimore.
Charm City Cross promoter Kris Auer, owner of 20 Twenty Cycling Company, loves cyclocross and sponsors C3 Athletes Serving Athletes, the Mid-Atlantic’s only dedicated cyclocross team. Known menacingly as the “Dark Side” for their imposing dark racing togs and dominance in various Mid-Atlantic races, C3 racers travel across the universe in search of the victory and the perfect waffle. Many have Belgian-style monikers in honor of Belgian cross heroes like multiple time world champ Sven Nys and Daphne Van den Brand. Look for Fatmarc Vanderbacon or Daphney van den Combsie at the start.
The cross force is strong in Auer who, in addition to sponsoring and racing for C3, has nurtured the sport’s popularity through grass roots endeavors like weekly training rides for veteran and novice riders as well as training clinics for various cycling disciplines (e.g. road, mountain, ‘cross). Charm City Cross is like a love letter to the cross community who feel the aphrodisiac and swoon at the incredible course. How can racers not like a course that offers a “Lil’ Belgians” race, complete with a sand pit, for the under 10 set to try the sport and usher in the next generation of racers?
In addition to Director Auer, the 70+ member team includes reigning MAC Elite Women’s champion Laura Van Gilder and runner up Arley Kemmerer. Stalwarts Weston Schempf and Andy Wulfkule are always threats in the Elite Men’s races. This year, the Dark Siders will compete against UK National Champ Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing), and compatriots Gabby Day (Team Scott Contessa) and Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles). The Philadelphia Cyclocross School (a team that promotes cultural exchange via cyclocross) will line up Elite Swiss racers Lukas Müller, Lukas Winterberg, and Erik Brügner and 2 Elite U.S. racers Pat Bradley and Eric Spohn.
Historic Druid Hill Park boasts all the requirements for the perfect ‘cross venue: urban location, ample parking, natural barriers, and plenty of food and beverage vendors. Auer chose the park because “it’s a very spectator friendly venue with good sight lines of the entire track from a central location. Most spectators congregate in the area adjacent to the pit, natural barrier (tree planter), and sand. The Lil’ Belgians course, kid’s playground, food vendor area, and beer garden are also right there. Bring the family and enjoy the day.”