New Orleans: ’Cross is here. © Jason Paris via Flickr
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Cyclocross racing makes its debut in the Big Easy on October 19th, bringing a quintessentially European sport to a quintessentially European city. The race will be the series opener of the Delta States Grand Prix of Cyclocross, hosted by Rouler, and sponsored by New Belgium.
“New Orleans gets its unique vibe from years of steeping together different cultures and traditions. Adding cyclocross to the mix really enriches the cycling scene in the same way, rounding it out with some exotic new flavor to get people excited about racing,” explains Richard Carman, head of communications for the race.
Organized by Wes McWhorter, DSGP will be the region’s first large-scale unified series of cyclocross races, with 5 dates scheduled from October to December across Louisiana and Mississippi. McWhorter’s stated goal is to introduce what he considers to be the most fun and approachable form of bicycle racing to a region that is not known as a hotbed of competitive cycling.
It began last year at a LAMBRA (Louisana/Mississippi Bicycle Racing Association) meeting, amidst intense discussion of the upcoming Road season. Seated far in the back, Wes sheepishly raised his hand and asked what was, to him, the obvious question, “What about cyclocross?”
While there was some discernible interest, it became clear that no one was keen to tackle the project, and just like that Wes found himself spearheading the initiative to bring a proper cyclocross racing circuit to the region.
“Cyclocross is getting huge in the US and when the mission is to put the local cycling scene on the map, getting people stoked on ‘cross provides one more way for them to connect with each other and cyclists across the country,” says Townsend Myers, Volunteer Coordinator.
The sport seems to be a perfect fit for the area, with a fondness for huge parties and an affinity for costuming already instilled in the culture. In addition, the undertaking seemed perfectly aligned with the mission of Rouler, the cycling brand McWhorter launched this year, dedicated to making sport cycling more accessible and adding vibrancy to New Orleans’ cycling scene.
The inaugural race aims to set the bar high for the series, with an ambitious course being constructed by a dedicated core of volunteers, and race organizers from within Rouler, as well as local cycling club “Semi-Tough.” Carved into a now-defunct golf course in New Orleans’ public City Park, the course is a 1.5 mile lap that takes advantage of the still prominent bunker, tee boxes, and raised greens to offer both technical challenges and lung-searing sprints. With live music, beer from New Belgium, and a gathering of New Orleans natives, a wild time is sure to ensue at the opening race.
“DSGP is filling a gap in a couple ways. We’re filling in the void in the cyclocross world, bridging the gap between Texas and Alabama, Georgia, Florida, so on. We’re also filling in a gap in the cycling calendar down here, when roadies normally go into hibernation and mountain bikers are not in full swing yet,” says Skip Town, Lead Organizer.
The DSGP season opener will be an officially sanctioned race, governed by officials from USACycling. A USAC license is required to race, and single-day licenses will be sold at the race for $10. Entry fee for the race itself will be $25 in advance, $30 day of. Races will be held in several USAC categories, and will also include a free kids “race” of one lap for pint-sized cyclists. More information on the race is available in the cyclocross section of www.yeahyouride.com.