Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Baltimore's Druid Hill Park at Charm City.

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Baltimore's Druid Hill Park at Charm City.

Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, site of this weekend’s Champion System MAC doubleheader, is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2010 and Charm City Cycling (also known as “C3”), the organizers of this weekend’s Charm City Cyclocross, are hoping they can celebrate with 10 racers for every year of the park’s existence. What is certain already is that riders from around the world will be contesting the UCI Elite Races.

Defending MAC champion Valentin Scherz of Switzerland returns following his near-miss at the Nittany Lion Cross, while Italy’s 2007 MAC Champion Davide Frattini makes his first ‘cross start of the young season. Two-time MAC champ Wes Schempf will lead the home team in the Elite Men’s, supported by his C3-Athletes Serving Athletes teammates “Bad Andy” Wulfkuhle and Mark Broadwater. 

In the international UCI Women’s race, the C3-Athletes Serving Athletes home team is heavily favored under the leadership of two-time defending MAC champion, and current women’s points leader, Laura Van Gilder and her teammates Arley Kemmerer, Dee Dee Winfield, Kim Dubeck and Elizabeth Harlow. C3’s biggest competition appears to come from both the North and the South. Team CF, which uses competitive cycling as a platform to promote fitness for those with Cystic Fibrosis, is bringing Kristin Gavin and Nikki Thiemann from Philadelphia. Gavin will be trying to improve on her third place finish at last weekend’s season opener while the always strong Thiemann will be looking to stand atop the podium for the first time this year. Also expected to contend are the Performance Bicycle Racing duo of Cara Applegate and Evie Boswell-Vilt from North Carolina.

They, and nearly 1,500 of their closest friends, will be competing in one of the oldest city parks in America. Druid Hill Park was founded in 1860, just two years after New York’s Central Park, at a time when civic leaders were just starting to realize the importance of conserving large parcels of land for recreation and conservation. The massive park also houses the city’s zoo and Botanic Gardens, as well as the largest lake in the U.S. formed by an earthen dam. Now surrounded by the Baltimore’s metropolis, the park was originally on the northernmost reaches of urban development when the Auchentorlieit Estate was purchased by the city and turned into a park. Maybe not coincidently for what is now one of the largest annual events at the historic park, the logo for the Druid Hill Park 150th Anniversary incorporates a penny-farthing bicycle.

Baltimore’s C3, has built the race from the ground up from a local race to a two-day UCI extravaganza in only five years with the help of other local cyclists and clubs, such as the Adventures for the Cure team, and sponsors like the Twenty20 Cycling Company and Heavy Seas (a.k.a. Clipper City) Beer, who are providing “recovery drinks” for adult racers.

Registration for the two-days of the 2010 Charm City Cyclocross remains open on BikeReg.com until Thursday evening, though a number of classes have already sold-out.  For more information on other races in the Champion System MAC Series, see www.MidAtlanticCross.com.