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Bicyclists Face Tough Fitness Test at Wixom Cyclocross Competition

Post Date:09/12/2017 2:17 PM

Cyclocross

Posted to www.hometownlife.com September 5, 2017
By Darrell Clem

Avid bicyclists will face a challenging terrain of hills, gravel, grass and barriers as they compete in one of cycling's toughest sports.

As many as 250 cyclocross enthusiasts from across Michigan and a few from Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, Canada, are expected to tackle a tough, 1.5-mile course during the inaugural Wixom Cyclocross Race, set for Saturday, Sept. 23, at Gilbert Willis Memorial Park.

"It's extremely competitive," said race organizer Tim Faas of Farmington Hills. "This is the highest level of cycling competition that you would find here in the state of Michigan."

Cyclocross, a sport where mountain biking and road biking meet, is growing in popularity among fans who are as serious about fitness as they are cycling. They're not afraid to bike in mud, snow or on most any terrain.

"It's a test of fitness and it's competitive," said Sandy Gaulin of White Lake, who plans to race in the Wixom Cyclocross Race. "Road races are all concrete. Cyclocross is much more challenging."

Faas, Canton Township's municipal services director, said the event offers six races and each, on average, has three different categories of riders, depending on skill level. The course is 1.5 miles long, but only 10 feet wide, so "passing is an issue," Faas said.

The races are 30 minutes or 60 minutes in duration, depending on age and ability.

"It's so demanding that to go any longer is pretty ridiculous," Gaulin said.

The event, with the city of Wixom as a partner, was organized by the Wolverine Sports Club, which Faas said was formed in 1888 and is Michigan's oldest sports club. Its members delve into sports other than cyclocross, such as speed skating and cross country skiing. It has produced Olympic and national champions such as bicyclist Frankie Andreu, who has competed around the world.

Andreu is scheduled to be the announcer at the Wixom event. Wixom Cyclocross is the third of 10 events the Wolverine Sports Club will sponsor during a season that typically runs from September to January.

"We'll be racing in the snow come December and January," Faas said.

Wixom Cyclocross is sanctioned by the Michigan Bicycle Racing Association, which is under the umbrella of USA Cycling. The Wolverineg Sports Club often donates proceeds from its events to youth cycling programs, in an effort to spur an early interest early in competitive cycling.

Faas said cyclocross originated in the early 1900s in France and Belgium and made its way to America about 30 years ago. Wixom Cyclocross is the first race of its kind in Wixom, but Faas said he hopes it can become an annual event.

Winners will earn prizes and cash. It costs $30 to preregister and the deadline is the end of the day Sept. 17. To preregister, go to http://www.usacycling.org.

Registration the day of the event starts at 8:30 a.m. and the last race is at 3 p.m. More on the event also is available at http://www.facebook.com/wixomcx.

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