Marc Dettman navigating a tricky slope at the Big Bad Wolf race in Midland, Michigan. © Adam McIntyre
Cyclocross around the country is expanding, and in Michigan, it’s exploding. Michigan’s race series expands this fall to new venues and new dates, kicking off with the Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross presented by Zevlin on Saturday, September 7. The Ithaca GP became known worldwide this past February through a few well-placed signs and one highly recognizable umbrella that made it onto the live coverage at the World Championships in Louisville, and Cyclocross Magazine covered the burgeoning ’cross scene in Detroit in Issue 21.
Racing in Michigan’s lower peninsula is split into roughly three geographic regions: Detroit/Ann Arbor with the Tailwind Series of races, Grand Rapids with the Kiss Cross series, and Traverse City/Petoskey with the Cross The Bay series. A few other events dot the landscape and provide racers in the upper Midwest a number of excellent options against tough competition and a wide range of terrain. North of the bridge the UPCROSS season has some great racing on tap for the fall as well.
The Tailwind Series of USAC-sanctioned races kicks off with the Ithaca GP presented by Zevlin on Saturday, September 7. Cyclocross racing in Ithaca returns for its fifth year at Woodland City Park, which is an anomaly of undulating terrain interwoven in an otherwise flat and windy landscape. 2013 marks the first year Ithaca is included in the Tailwind Series, which was a no-brainer for promoter, Brian Hancock. “When Bryan Wissman of Tailwind and I talked last fall it seemed the most logical direction to head for the Ithaca GP. Bryan offers a seamless race-day experience with electronic timing and a professional staff, while Ithaca offers Tailwind an outlet into the central Michigan area with an established and well-liked event,” Hancock said.
This year all Tailwind Elite Men will race simultaneously with the Elite Masters 35+ and 45+, and all Elite racers will compete for the same purse. The depth of elite racing in Michigan is impressive: On any given weekend it is not uncommon to have both a former masters national champion and USGP 35+ series champion toe the line together. Add to that the number of top five finishers at national and USGP races, and you have some fast fields in both men’s and women’s elite events.
UHC racer turned grassroots for ’cross Brad White pops the champagne at last year’s Ithaca GP, flanked by Sven Baumann and Tom Burke. © Curt Potocki
On the west side of the state the Kiss Cross series starts racing for beer on Sunday, September 8, in Grand Rapid’s Highland Park. The Kiss Cross events are raucously fun races that draw a wide range of skill levels to the start line.
In the northern Lower Peninsula the Cross The Bay series gets underway at the end of September, kicking off a hot series of races off in East Jordan on September 29. This series is now in its second year and has added a fifth race to the calendar for 2013.
As the season ramps up to the USAC state championships in December, Tailwind racers will make one more stop at Lake Orion High School for a double-header. Last year the LOHS double was a breath of fresh air as a new venue—racers had no idea what to expect. This year, the weekend of November 23 and 24 will set the stage going into the final race of the series.
The west-side racers will contest the Kiss Cross race in Holland at the Window on the Waterfront park. A tricky dirt and log stair section and a fast course make for a fun day. Don’t forget the after-party in downtown Holland … ’Crossers of all types gather to share stories and talk about Fat Bikes and skiing in the winter.
Back on the east side, the state championship venue for 2013 is once again Addison Oaks County Park. By December 8 the weather in Michigan will be anyone’s guess. Michigan state championships have been contested in anything from a foot of snow to a slop fest of mud. Addison Oaks has all of the qualities you’d want in a championship, so look for the Tailwind crew to deliver yet another top notch series finale.
One thing is for sure—with the season starting in roughly a month, only the strongest and smartest will be able to maintain form through the state championships, capping a long haul of ’cross almost four months later.
Sarah McIntyre at Mad Anthony in historic Detroit. © Adam McIntyre
More information on Michigan racing and schedules can be found at:
Don’t forget to join the Michigander Cross group on the CXM Cowbell Forum as well!