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The wild ride of Vegas cyclocross

Road racing’s crazy cousin comes to town for CrossVegas

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Timothy Johnson runs over an obstacle during the CrossVegas cyclocross race Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 at Desert Breeze Park.
Photo: Sam Morris

Your average sports fan is familiar with bike racing thanks to the Tour de France—a heavily sponsored, heavily televised jaunt through the European countryside that makes one rider very famous and most others very sore. CrossVegas is not that kind of race.

Think of cyclocross as road racing’s obscure second cousin from the Pacific Northwest. Races generally consist of multiple laps over a short off-road circuit and end at a predetermined time, rather than when competitors have completed a certain number of laps. The sport is contested over fall and winter months, and races are often run in wet, cold and muddy conditions on courses featuring obstacles and stairs that force the riders to dismount and carry their bikes over the uneven terrain.

On September 19, hundreds of cyclocross riders descended upon Desert Breeze Soccer Complex for CrossVegas, the largest cyclocross race in North America, timed to coincide with Interbike, the largest bicycle industry trade show in North America. When the dirt had settled, victory (and sweet engraved cowbells) went to Sanne Van Paassen in the women’s race and Jeremy Powers in the men’s. Hint: He’s the one with his fist in the air.

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