It has been, um, an interesting two weekends for the Chicago Cross Cup.
After a biblical deluge fell on World Cup Waterloo north of the Cheddar Curtain in late mid-September, the rains continued to fall on the Midwest as the calendar moved into fall and the end of September.
Last Friday, two days before the 2019 Chicago Cross Cup opener at Caldwell Woods—actually, Bunker Hill Park because the venue had already changed once—the Chi Cross Cup Twitter account posted this rather cryptic missive:
It turns out, the hosts from xXx Racing were not kidding. Between that tweet and the end of the day Friday, the race went from potentially not happening to moving to Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale. Since the last Indian Lakes cyclocross weekend was held in 2016, Hilton sold the hotel and the golf course went into disrepair.
The bunkers have been filled in with invasive plants and the fairways are covered in weeds, but the areas that were once the rough made for a decent surface, albeit a muddy one, to race bikes on. Sunday's event went off with few hitches at a site that once hosted double Chicago Cross Cup weekends and the New Year's Resolution Cross back when Nationals were in Madison.
You can read my experience racing that mudder, if you'd like.
Fast forward a week, and it was deja vu all over again. Sunday's race was scheduled to take place at DeKalb's Hopkins Park. After like 10' of rain fell west of the city and with more in the forecast for Saturday, Comrade Cycles had to move the race.
Fortunately, the Chicago Cross Cup appears to have found a new rain venue willing to open its abandoned fairways and bunkers to Chicagoans and Midwesterners who like to play bikes.
Having already gone through the last-minute venue change a week earlier, perhaps the toughest part of Sunday's race was figuring out what to call it. Hopkins Park CX? Hopkins Park CX at Indian Lakes? Indian Lakes Part Deux? Hopkins Lake Park Cross? I honestly still have not settled on my understanding of what it should be.
Some Saturday rain on the western suburbs appropriately turned to sun on Sunday, and riders were treated to a course where actual grass was visible, at least in spots. Several mud pits dotted the first half of the course, and the thick mud stuck to wheels, derailleurs, pedals and frames, creating a second straight week of challenging conditions.
Last week's Elite Women's winner, April Beard of Wisconsin, did not make the trip south for Cross Wars: The Mudpire Strikes Back, so riders hit the start line knowing the series leader's jersey would change hands after the 45 minutes of racing on the warm early fall afternoon.
After a somewhat disappointing fifth-place finish at Indian Lakes: First Mud, Wisconsin's Erin Feldhausen (Trek Cyclocross Collective) wasted little time getting out to a fast start on Sunday. Feldhausen missed the entire 2018 cyclocross season due to a back injury suffered in a road crash, and she has wasted little time returning to her 2017 form this year.
Feldhausen took an early lead, with last week's runner-up Sydney Guagliardo leading the chase.
Behind her, Lauren Harkness and Kae Takeshita (Got Wind? Racing) kept Guagliardo within striking distance.
Guagliardo could not bridge to Feldhausen and dropped back with Harkness and Takeshita. A long way from Kansas and the gravel roads she knows best, Takeshita popped off the chase, and then Harkness got a gap on Guagliardo and went it alone.
The race stayed that way for the rest of the five-lap affair, with Feldhausen riding near perfect to take home her second win of the weekend after winning in Wisconsin at Grafton PumpkinCross on Saturday.
Harkness took second and Guagliardo third.
Takeshita finished fourth, and Wisconsin's Amy Schultz (L5 Racing) took fifth in her first CCC Elite race after upgrading to Cat 2 last week.
Emma Osborne (Team Extreme) took the Women's Cat 3/4 win for the second-straight week.
The Chicago Cross Cup series returns this Sunday at Pulaski CX on the city's far southwest side.
For more from Sunday's Women's Elite and Cat 3/4 races, see the photo gallery and Elite results below. Stay tuned for a gallery from the Elite Men's race.
If you are interested in purchasing a photo for personal use, send an email to zachary [at] cxmagazine [dot] com. (We can look for more as well.)
For more photos from all Hopkins Park CX categories, check out SnowyMountain Photography.