Cyclocrossers got an early start on a Halloween celebration this past Wednesday at the finale of Rodeo Cross, held outside Sacramento at the Dan Russell Rodeo Arena in Folsom, California. It’s hard to beat a night costume race in terms of Halloween spirit. Cyclocross Magazine was on hand to witness in the festivities, and we have a few photos and a video of the Halloween hoedown in Folsom.
Rodeo Cross is Back
After a one year hiatus, the Rodeo Cross Wednesday night cyclocross series in Folsom returned this season with four races in September and two in October.
The now-husband-and-wife pair of Frank Shoemaker and Asa Salas used to manage course setup for the series when it was put on and organized by another promoter. After the promoter didn’t continue the series last season, Shoemaker took it over, made a few tweaks, and with the help of Salas and fellow race promoter Murphy Mack, relaunched it this year.
The first change was to make it a shorter series and move it earlier in the season. Rodeo Cross used to be an eight-race series that concluded in December, but ending a race on a wet, cold 30 degree December night doesn’t exactly encourage attendance. In relaunching Rodeo Cross, Shoemaker shortened the series, targeting racers who would use his series as early season training, as well as newbies who wanted to try cyclocross in a laid back, more casual environment.
It worked. Even former Masters Cyclocross National Champions John and Linda Elgart were in attendance this season.
The second change Shoemaker implemented was to conclude his series with a party of a race, ending it this past Wednesday with a Halloween-themed bang.
Plenty of Treats for Everyone
Think you’re in for a mass start Wednesday Night Worlds? Think again. Rodeo Cross had plenty of treats queued up for all cyclocrossers and spectators. The race boasts 11 different categories, spread out over three different races with individual staggered starts. There’s real course tape and stakes, wooden barriers, long strings of fluorescent bulbs to light up the course, and cooler full of drinks by registration. Up to 140 other racers are on hand to push you to ride faster by chasing you down or cheer you up the stairs.
Tempted to soft pedal in the woods, thinking nobody is looking? Heckle Hollow and the Gheto CX DJ keeps you focused, hydrated, and motivated to put on a game face and do a good ride.
Hall passes in short supply at home? Assuming you’re relatively local, getting home by 9 pm is easy.
Didn’t pre-register? No tricks here. $20 day of entry fee. No one day license fee. Second race is $10.
The finale featured some special treats in the form of Andrew Clark’s handmade trophies.
Think of Halloween and crave something packed with sugar? In the woods, there was a big variety of sweet handups to help wash down the rodeo dust or the liquid handup you just grabbed.
Be Ready for Tricks
Rodeo Cross has a few tricks up its sleeve, and competing in it isn’t exactly a walk in the park. First, the course is deceptive, and requires more driving skills than you might think it does while doing course recon in daylight. The loose dirt of the horse stadium puts a premium on line choice, especially when there is a lengthy spiral to navigate, and the stadium stairs have inconsistent spacing that may tempt you to run up the seating area instead.
Find yourself parched as you enter Heckle Hollow? Be careful what you reach for. Unsuspecting racers grabbed handups of random costume parts or beers with marinating Oreo cookies, while others were left looking around, only to be treated to flashes of nakedness (some welcomed and not-so-welcomed).
And if you finish your race hoping to instantly upload your results to crossresults.com and help your global ranking, there’s no treat for you. You didn’t pay for electronic timing and a big timing staff. Results will come. Eventually. Shoemaker is still putting the finishing touches on his fifth race’s results.
Still, racers from as far as Redding, Reno and the Bay Area have made the long trips (due to miles or traffic) to race Rodeo Cross, and Shoemaker is already looking forward to next season and is motivated to grow his attendance to 150 racers or more (we wouldn’t be surprised if it grows much larger than that next season). He’s also contemplating an early spring edition of Rodeo Cross for the late-season fanatics who can’t get enough, and hopes to secure more lighting for more course options next year.
Sacramento area racers already have good reason to block out their Wednesday nights on their calendar for next fall, and the rest of us have good reason to be jealous.
Rodeo Cross Video: Heckle Hollow