November 6, 2009 – Matt Brancheau’s debut as a cyclocross promoter in 2007 was an unqualified success. Working in tandem with the Howard County Recreation and Parks Department as “co-promoters,” his Rockburn Cross in Elkridge, Maryland got tongues wagging both during and after the races as bloggers lit up the internet with positive comments. Last year, the event joined the BikeReg.com MABRAcross Series. This year, the team that organized Rockburn Cross has added a second venue to create the “Howard County Double Cross” weekend November 21-22, and Brancheau is confident about the new race’s quality. “We’ve had some impressive freshman races through the years,” said Brancheau recently, “but Schooley Mill will hopefully blow those debuts away, not so much in size, necessarily, as much as having more of the kinks ironed out. Everything that makes Rockburn great will also apply to Schooley Mill.”
Brancheau is quick to point out that Rockburn Cross hasn’t been left in the dust. Continuing improvement has been a hallmark of the race since its inception. “We’ve made quite a few improvements at Rockburn as well,” he says. “The biggest thing people will notice is that we now have a full 300 meter paved start chute. We’ve also added UCI-spec pits and further distilled the course design. It still has everything that makes Rockburn, Rockburn, but we’ve been able to condense it even more this year.” Also new is the official race hotel, which was only opened in April. “The race hotel is only three kilometers from the start of the race,” chuckles Brancheau. “That’s less than the distance around Rockburn’s race course.”
The new venue will open the Double Cross weekend. Schooley Mill Park is located just 20 minutes east of Sunday’s Rockburn Cross in Highland, Maryland. Both courses are very accessible as they are located approximately mid-way between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and are less than 10 minutes away from their respective exits off of Interstate 95. “This is a ‘horse of a course.’ It has several dismounts, a run-up, a water hazard, a full 250 meter start, indoor bathrooms and UCI-spec pits. It’s also easy to walk around and watch the races at Schooley Mill.”
Still, how far can you trust a promoter who openly admits that he’s running a “double-cross?” Quite far if the email about previous editions of Rockburn Cross is any indication. “Best of the year” is a recurring theme of those emails. Chris Carraway said, “best race I’ve done all season.” Meanwhile, Jonathan Siebold wrote, “”Great course. Best of the year I think.” Browsing through all the complimentary emails, one from a racer named Ryan Douglas seems to sum up the prevailing mood, “I thought the race was awesome. The venue…awesome. All of your volunteers and vendors…awesome. The course was different than others which was great. A little tree action, some serious climbs, etc., not to mention great swag for podium places.”
For more information on the Howard County Double Cross, including links to the official event website with maps and hotel booking, see BikeReg.com. For up-to-the-minute updates, the event’s twitter account address is http://twitter.com/rockburncross. Or follow the race blog at http://hoco2xcx.blogspot.com/.