If you’re like us, cyclocross is on the brain more often than you’d like to admit. Perhaps the obsession even permeates into your daily schedule, and on your daily commute, you often see a field on the side of the road, and wonder how you could turn that into a cyclocross course.
Cory and Melissa Lafleur, two passionate cyclocrossers who spent much of their season racing in New England, have made these type of daydreams a reality. In relative proximity to the NBX Gran Prix in Warwick, Rhode Island, the couple has transformed a long stretch of land into a permanent cyclocross park called Riverpoint.
“Riverpoint is actually an old mill town, a little down on it’s luck,” Melissa told Cyclocross Magazine. “But the city has been developing the park and this was the only neglected area. It was a perfect fit.”
The large park, which had been neglected for a long time, is being completely revamped by the town in recent years. The central area of the park will include the traditional American mainstays of baseball fields and tennis courts, but there was still a wide expanse of land that Riverpoint kept off its radar: it was a long, winding stretch of the park that didn’t seem to accommodate many communal activities. The grills and tables installed years ago, had rusted and were overgrown for almost two decades.
The Lafleurs, however, saw the deep sand pits, twisting passages and forgotten granite steps and knew it was ideal for a cyclocross event.
The work over the summer was hard, and the couple had to battle mosquitos, bees and the heat. But what encouraged them to take the task on?
“I always wondered if I knew about cycling earlier in my life, would things have been different for me?” Melissa asked herself. “I love this sport and I’m not happy just training for myself, I’m not going pro, I want to give back. This opens an opportunity to introduce the youth in the community to cycling. You know, cycling is odd, you never know how good you can be unless you give it a go! You certainly can’t try it, if you don’t know it exists!”
Right now the course includes dropoffs, euro-style chutes with tight turns after, a mix between dirt and pavement of a river walk, wooded sections and natural sand. But they’re not done yet. As Cory says, “It’s not done, we’re always finding something new to work on.”
Their goal over the next five years? They would love to see the course get a few races per season, and they are not counting out a UCI race in the future. They are currently looking forward to an event they call ScrubZone Nationals, a January 11th event which gives the locals who can’t make the trip to Austin a little “Nationals” of their own. The proceeds will go towards the continued maintenance of the park, as well as help fund some interesting man-made additions to the course.
For more information: Riverpoint Cyclocross’ Facebook Page
For information and registrations on Srubzone Nationals: bikereg.com/scrubzonenationals
Video Interview with Riverpoint’s Corey Lafleur