As We See It

5 things to know about CrossVegas

An epic after-dark desert bike race? Sure

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

1. It’s a cyclocross race. Drawing a blank? Imagine spandexed riders whipping around turns on a multi-terrain course that takes the bikes over ramps, hurdles and hills, sometimes requiring racers to dismount and carry their rides over obstacles. Oh yeah, and it's at night.

2. While the sport has old roots in European countries where cycling is popular, such as France, Belgium and Switzerland, it’s a relatively recent import to the U.S. American riders have graced the podium in recent years, but the current world champion is 37-year-old Belgian rider Sven Nys, who’ll take on the field Wednesday at Clif Bar CrossVegas.

CrossVegas 2012

3. The race started with a roadmap. As founder and CrossVegas promoter Brook Watts told Velo News, “We flew to Las Vegas and went to every green spot on the map. Some were next to the projects and that wouldn’t work. Some were postage stamps.” Eventually someone from the city suggested the then-new Desert Breeze Park. “We get there and say, ‘This is a freaking soccer field; there’s nothing here.’ Then you get up to the retention basin, that big bowl, and, ‘Holy cats, this is a cyclocross stadium.’”

4. The competition is just getting started. The international cyclocross season started this month, so U.S. and international racers will be getting back into the groove in Vegas, testing themselves and eying the competition.

5. Last year’s race drew nearly 10,000 spectators from the Interbike convention and local community, so you’ll be in good company. Besides, what else do you have to do on a Wednesday night?

Clif Bar CrossVegas September 18, 5 p.m. (8 p.m. elite start), $8. Desert Breeze Skate Park.

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