The signature run-up of the Champion System MAC Series is back, and it only seems bigger than last year. The Amphitheater of Pain at Beacon Cyclocross has been a staple of the Champion System MAC Series for nearly a decade, and it will again be the centerpiece of the first day of a UCI and Champion System MAC double-header in New Jersey.
In what has become a tradition, Champion System MAC’s New Jersey weekend again takes place on Halloween weekend with two courses that many racers rate as their favorites. Both events feature UCI-sanctioned races for Elite Men and Women as well as a full compliment of amateur classes.
The weekend starts with the Beacon Cyclocross in southern New Jersey. Held in the woods and beach beside Bridgeton’s Sunset Lake, Beacon is an addictive high-speed video game dash through the woods, punctuated by a sketchy downhill, a beach run that’s right at the UCI limit of 80 meters, and the famous “Amphitheater of Pain.” From atop the Amphitheater, and overlooking the downhill and beach run, race announcer John Johnson will, for the amusement of spectators sitting in the center of this clover leaf design course, hurl heckles upon the heads of helpless racers who dare to lead, crash, wear Halloween costumes or otherwise draw his attention.
The following day, Champion System MAC racers trade sand for the rich grass and, if it’s raining, thick mud of the HPCX at the lakeside Thompson Park in the central New Jersey town of Jamesburg. A dual production between the Highland Park Hermes and Rutgers University Cycling Club’s, HPCX also counts toward the ECCC collegiate cyclocross series. The rolling terrain at Thompson Park provides no stand-out obstacles. It’s not excessively steep, nor is it particularly fast. What HPCX provides is a well-balanced and diverse course that favors all-around cyclocross riders more than sprint or climbing specialists.