Rugged Race

February 2022 View more

Nearly 1,200 athletes from all over the United States showed up at Cantigny Park to compete in the 2021 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship, held December 7 to 12. The 3.4-kilometer course featured hills, stairs, and a sand pit challenge that riders tackled—through mud, wind,
and cold—both on and off their bikes. 

Think of this pursuit as a cross between road cycling and mountain biking, with a dash of steeplechase. “It’s a winter sport that’s all about the mud and heckling,” says Tom Mahoney, marketing operations manager for USA Cycling. Heckling? “A lot of hardcore fans stand by the difficult features to heckle the riders. It’s a very fun atmosphere and relaxed community vibe.” The six-day event drew more than 5,000 spectators to cheer and jeer the athletes.

“We were able to create a super challenging course that enabled people at all abilities and levels to have a fun and exciting opportunity to race their bikes,” says Mahoney. “Having all the history here at Cantigny and being able to interact with it was fantastic.” Food trucks and beer vendors were on hand as well. 

Photos courtesy USA Cycling