The unique, urban, family and spectator-friendly Mare Island Pedalfest returns for its fourth year this Sunday, September 24. Cyclocross Magazine has been there since the start, and each year, the event stands out due to its unique course, location, and focus on fun for everyone, not just racers.
The event features a lung-bursting, urban cyclocross course riddled with challenging, man-made obstacles and serpentine mazes through the limited off-road sections.
The event does cyclocross differently for sure. Races are based on pre-determined lap counts, with Juniors/Cs doing two laps, Bs and Women doing three laps, and As and Pros doing four laps.
The promoters have implemented changes and improvements each year, and 2023 is no different. The start wave logistics are revamped, to speed up the process and shrink the gaps between waves. Gone are the concrete downhill steps from two years ago, and the mulch hills that caused some to go OTB. In place of the mulch hills is a run through one of the area’s longest buildings:
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The relay race now has a new award too:
For 2023 we’ll have a new award for the Lonesome Louis race:the Spirit Award. This is meant to be a fun way to recognize teams who bring tons of enthusiasm to the relay race so we can encourage participants to stay stoked each year! This award is separate from the Speed Awards which recognize the three teams that cross the finish line in the fastest time.
The promoters promise a challenging course, but are discouraging pre-riding to preserve the racer’s experience. If you get to the venue very early, you likely won’t be prevented from taking a safety lap.
But the event is about far more than just racing, as it brings all types of bike fun to attendees, including a bike swap, a “Lap of the Shipyard” Family Bike Tour, a bike rodeo, and a cycling festival at the doorstep of a brewery.
While the long, 3.5 mile-long course reduces the number of laps and times spectators see the racers, the course’s obstacles are heavily concentrated right in front of fans and the brewery. Watch racers attempt to navigate the obstacles, grab a drink, and return for another dose of heckling. Halfway through the race, racers will be spread out enough to provide constant entertainment.
Junior racing starts at 9:00 a.m. and the event ends with the relay at 2:00 pm. See the full schedule here.
The event caps the fun day with relay racing, where teams of four share one bike to complete a four-lap race.
The Mare Island Pedalfest is the second stop of the seven-race Bay Area Super Prestige cyclocross series, which kicks off on Saturday in Livermore with the VSRTCX race.
More info: mareislandpedalfest.com