The tower at Granogue, and the hordes of cyclists charging up it at last year's race.

The tower at Granogue, and the hordes of cyclists charging up it at last year's race.

by Anne Rock

Non-profit organizations The Delaware Cross Coalition of Delaware and Velo Amis present America’s toughest cross race on October 15 & 16 with two days of UCI C2 races, including a UCI junior field, and the rounds 6 and 7 in the non-UCI MAC Series.

Wilmington, Delaware — Granogue, the crown jewel of the MAC Series, returns to the private DuPont estate near Wilmington, Delaware, for another year of subjugating the strong and demoralizing the weak.

Cyclocross royalty who have conquered the Crown Jewel in the past include: Tim Johnson, Ryan Trebon, Jesse Anthony, Marc Gullickson, Katie Compton, Lyne Bessette, Barbara Howe and Georgia Gould.

One of only five races offering a UCI Junior (17-18) field, Granogue gives young luminaries like currently undefeated Sam O’Keefe (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) and Colorado’s Zane Godby (Clif Bar Development Cross Team) a chance to compete against other top U19 elites for glory while earning UCI points.

Last year’s UCI junior winner at Granogue, Yannick Eckmann (Pearlizumi/Shimano), finished fifth as a first-year UCI U23 pro at day one at the USGP New Belgium Cup in Boulder, besting the likes of Cannondale pb’s Tim Johnson and Christian Heule.

Promoter Marc Vettori expressed pride in the UCI Junior U19 category. “It’s a great opportunity to support young riders and we are pleased to be one of five races to offer this category.”

So what makes Granogue so tough? So feared and revered?

There’s room for neither rest nor errors on this course that undulates, twists, and climbs across gravel, grass, woods, and mud.   Take the trickiest sections of all the courses you’ve ever ridden and throw them into one course.  Now, add a bunch of quad-crushing climbs and you begin to get the idea.

And pray to whatever god will listen for dry conditions.  Even mudders discover that Granogue soil possesses unique qualities not found anywhere else on the planet.  Indeed, one drop of rain seems to turn the entire field into a muddy morass of peanut butter and glue.  Wet or dry, the hills, turns, and roots remain, testing the most accomplished crossers.

Race presenters Delaware Cross Coalition of Delaware (DCCOD) and Velo Amis, both non-profit organizations run by cross evangelists, enlist dozens of loyal volunteers who work tirelessly to produce this grass roots event that boasts professional production and attendance from all over the world.

Fair warning: be nice to the parking volunteers and don’t gripe about the $5 fee which goes directly to supporting the Women’s and Junior’s fields.  Velo Amis promoter and Elite racer Lauri Webber has been known to ask parking fee protestors what they have “against women and children.”

This year’s Elite racers (who will compete for UCI points, while non-UCI racers will compete for MAC series points) include regional royalty like C3 Athletes Serving Athletes Bad Andy Wulfkuhle, Weston Schempf, and Laura Van Gilder along with Team CF’s Nikki Thiemann.