Charm City Cyclocross: From Free Clinic to UCI C2
September 4, 2009; Conshohocken, PA, USA: Some cross races start off as an idea or as a marketing concept. But in Baltimore, the C3-Athletes Serving Athletes team and their Charm City Cyclocross has grown organically and bountifully since 2005 without “fertilizer”. The Charm City Cyclocross, which traditionally hosts one of the largest field of entries of any east coast cyclocross, is now a UCI sanctioned event. And it all started with a weekly ‘cross clinic that Kris Auer has run for several years. “Instead of payment, I asked that people step up and help me put on an event,” said Auer recently. “The help I got was more than I could have imagined. And, as a result of that help and that first race, the club and team were formed along the same lines.”
Typically, every race has a person who is identified as “the” promoter. And most successful clubs have a president or director. And while Auer wears those hats for the C3-Athletes in Action club and the Charm City Cyclocross, the relationship is less managerial and more collaborative, much like the relationship between an athlete and a coach. That’s fitting because Auer’s Athlete Development Group coaching business is what puts food on his table. “While the initial ideas for the events and the club may have been mine, the people in the club make it all happen,” says Auer. ”Nothing can get done without the help of the group,” agrees race co-promoter and club lieutenant Chris Nystrom. “Today Charm City is still put on by many of the same people and thanks to the tireless work of our club members the support of our sponsors and the auxiliary support of other clubs that always seem to chip in when the need arises. I’d like to think of Charm as not only our race, but everybody’s.”
As an organization, C3 is different in another respect as well. The club’s black-suited riders are so consistently, at time dominantly, at the front of so many cyclocross classes that a joke circulated last year linking them to Darth Vadar’s famous quote, “You don’t know the power of the dark side!” Never a club that’s been lacking a sense of humor (they debuted special Karate Kid Fists of Death team skinsuits for a Halloween weekend race last year) the ‘dark side’ has been cheerfully adopted as a slogan on the team website. Apart from the club’s cohesiveness, the club’s on-track success may be attributed to it being the only major club in the large Mid-Atlantic region whose primary racing season starts in September. “Cross was always the focus, and always will be,” says Auer. “But we dabble in road, off road and multi sport events during the off season.”
The Charm City Cyclocross, held in Baltimore’s historic Druid Hill Park, is a UCI-C2 race and also is part of the opening weekend of the MAC powered by SRAM Cyclocross Series open to all USAC licensed racers. Details, including the full technical guide to the race, can be found at BikeReg.com.