by Mark Thomas
The Kansas City Metro has a lively cyclocross scene. For the 2009/2010 season, racing began in September and continues until January.
We’re a bit behind our brothers and sisters in Belgium, so instead of a “Christmas Week” full of events, we wait until New Year’s Eve to start packing a few races together.
On Thursday, December 31st we “Cross Off The Old Year” to kick off our version of the Holiday Week. This event starts at 1PM to allow both folks excused from work and those sneaking out after a half-day to attend. Like all good parties and ‘cross races, there will be free beer for spectators and racers alike. Big run-ups and a free kid’s race should keep everyone entertained.
Those that overindulge get a few days to rest up before Epic Holiday Cyclocross on Sunday, January 3rd. This event is uniquely situated on the green space and cobbled roads of the Tuileries Shopping Center. Yes, a shopping mall race. Spectators are guaranteed at this faux-French-designed (mini-Eiffel Tower included) venue. Be assured that it’s worth the kitsch, as it’s also the location of super-’cross-supportive title sponsor Epic Bike and Sport. And again, there will be free beer for all of legal age.
The week (O.K., 10 days), finishes off with the Grote Prijs Shawnee. The promoters have partnered up with the City of Shawnee, Kansas for the 6th running of the G.P. The race is held in a recreated 19th century village and adjoining park. Fast pavement and twisty grass, as well as heated registration, restrooms and viewing make this a local favorite. The event takes its name in part because of Shawnee’s heritage as a Belgian settlement in the early Twentieth Century. The Grote Prijs Shawnee is the final race on a schedule that included 18 races in and around Kansas City.
Kansas City has a rich history of cyclocross, including hosting three USAC National Cyclocross Championships in the last decade (2000, 2007 and 2008). Local icons Steve Tilford, Catherine Walberg and Dean Parker have stood on the podium at multiple Nationals.
Chris Wallace represented on the Junior World’s Team at Hoogerheide last year and is slotted for Tabor this year. For the sixth year in a row, a group from KC are off to Mol, Belgium for the UCI Masters World Championship.