Welcome to the Sport of Cyclocross

Bellingham BMX

It's the least understood but most emphatically enjoyed faction of cycling. It's mud-bogging, sand-squirming, barrier-hopping, wet-grass-slipping, steep-pitch-scrambling fun.

It will make you want to puke. It will make you want to fall over. It will make you feel alive, and once your heart rate comes down, you'll want to do it again.

It's called Cyclocross, and it's like no other cycling discipline (but somewhat like all of them).


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Are you sufficiently excited for Bellingham Bandit Worlds this weekend at Cornwall Park!? If not, here are some juicy tidbits to get your mouth watering:

The Fanatik Bike Co. Racing Team is large, in-charge, and well coordinated by CX Captain Rusty Dodge. They will be at Cornwall Park building out the course Friday night and early Saturday, monitoring it Saturday during the races, tearing it down on Saturday afternoon and tamping out the grass before we leave the park. They do a fantastic job of running our finale and are a huge asset to the cyclocross community. Thanks in advance, crew!

Pre-registration is extremely helpful for this race to help us get your Overall Scores ready in time for the Awards Party!

After racing and finishing the first five races in our series, the following 26 riders are in the running for a Transition Rapture frame at the Awards Party. You must also finish Bandit Cross on Saturday and attend the Finale Party to complete several feats of strength and agility! Some of these characters are repeat offenders from 2013. Have you sought professional help for your Bellingham CXaffliction?

Blair BenjaminDavid Hodgson
Andrew BergKirsten Jensen
Christin ClawsonDavid Joiner
John ColemanBaden Kowal
Magnus CollanderRuy Lopez
Curtis CrapeCarter Maden
Brian DagnonSteven Moe
Colin FergusonBrad Nelson
Scarlett GrahamHannah Neubeck
Jen HamptonScott Rittscher
Johnathon-Joshua HarderMario Rivas
Elizabeth HartsochClinton Seal
Doss Herndon-SchepperCharlie VanZandt

The event page for our Finale Party has been updated with some directions via bicycle on some unfinished interurban trail routes. It is only 2 miles from Cornwall Park. Make it part of your cyclocross adventure! Here's the Google map.

The weather forecast is looking pretty solid for the weekend and has been so solid lately, I don't doubt it will be 50 degrees and clear! This does not make great skiing conditions, but it should be fine cyclocross conditions for the last cyclocross race in North America for the 2014-15 season. After the best Junior and Women cyclocross racers in the world battle it out in Tabor, CZ (can Katie Compton finally take the title for the U.S. from Vos?), you can ride around a beautiful park with your friends. Okay, maybe there'll be a little bit of suffering and elbow bumping.

See you out there!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Happy New Year from Cascade Cross! I know the holiday season can be crazy (and you're probably just glad it's over), but it does provide us with a great opportunity for us to share good cheer, then renew & rejuvenate ourselves for the opportunities ahead. Before that spirit totally escapes us, your secret cyclocross santa (also known as Ryan) wants to send out a warm greeting card. Sorry for the late arrival! I just want to extend a heart-felt message of gratitude for the wonderful cyclocross season we've experienced together so far in 2014. It has been an amazing sequence of races and venues with fantastic weather, course conditions, spectating, racing, and costuming (some of which we will review in a moment).

Let's rewind a year to get some perspective. Early in the morning hours of Jan. 11th, just hours before the series finale in Cornwall Park last season, I lost my best friend of 8 years - my Australian Shepherd named Bandit. He had been my shadow at every cyclocross course I've ever built. All those late Friday nights in the dark... what would I have done without his company? Probably given up. He was an extremely loyal companion and a great ski & ride partner. Here he is on a particularly thirsty day on the Whoopsie Woodle trail on Galbraith Mountain:

Bandit succumbed to an unknown fatal poisoning - perhaps natural, perhaps not. It was both ill-timed and perfectly timed. That fateful incident capped a particularly difficult year of promoting cyclocross for me. By the beginning of November, we had promoted six cyclocross races in six weeks. The stress level was causing low-grade destruction of my sanity. I was stretched to the breaking point, and by that time in January, Bandit's death could have been the force that caused the rubber band to fully snap. Fortunately, the Fanatik team and other volunteers stepped up in a big way and ran that event so smoothly that I could sit back a bit and just get through the day. I raced in the B race as way to honor his memory and keep the rubber rolling forward. The next morning I took his beautiful Blue Merle body out to my brand new property right by Silver Lake Park (home of our 2nd race last year) and buried him. I named the one acre lot Banditland.

With the success of that last race affirmed, I handed over the finale to the Fanatik team in a long-term agreement. That is, the last race of the season at Cornwall Park will always be theirs, as long as we can keep it. Feel free to share your support for that situation with the Bellingham Parks & Rec Department! My one request was that we rename the event Bandit Cross, and so it is! Cheers to you, Bandit.

In the early part of 2014, say spring time, I began conversations with all the interested clubs & teams that have helped me promote cyclocross over the years. I wanted each group to take ownership of an event and do much of the prep work so I could focus on the overall management & marketing of the series, the permacourse at Bellingham BMX (my baby), and have a bit of fun myself! It was a model that could bring more sustainability, since I seemed to be losing some of the incredible energy it requires to pull this off in my spare time (on top of all my other responsibilities and personal pursuits).

It became quickly apparent that every club had an important role to play, but not every club could fully pull off their own event. We had to continue to work as a group, with each person or group contributing where they could to make the whole machine operate. That's why I called 2014 the Year of the Collective. Maybe you didn't notice a difference, but this approach has proven to be quite effective for us this past year! We also brought in the help of Red Tent Timing which is another huge release of burden on me, especially on race day. Instead of being chained to the finish line all day as I have been for the prior eight seasons, I found myself wandering around checking on course conditions, talking to vendors & volunteers, taking pictures... even race commentating at Bellingham BMX! I was having more fun with more energy for racing myself, which brings it all home. I mean, we're all in this to get muddy, right?!

So what you will see more of in 2015 and beyond is a collective model of production of the Cascade Cross Series, and that includes you! You might also call this a co-operative business, that is, member/owner operated! The core leadership will be putting together a feasibility study of actually forming a legitimate business structure in Washington. Look for more announcements in this arena come springtime. Everyone is welcome to participate in this transition process!

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves! We still have to look back at the past few races and look forward to the next three events! I'll have to cover the excellent, new Whidbey Island race and Zombie Xmas Cross at Lutherwood in a “year in review” post in February, as I'm running out of breath! In the meantime, you can always count on Brett over at theHoleshot.ca for an excellent race report with photos. Let's just say, in brief, don't miss these races next year. They are the highlights of my season so far, and many called Fort Nugent Park one of the best cyclocross venues in the region! How fortunate we are to have access to all these amazing venues for our tiny little series!

I'll be filling in the details for the Ride of the Valkyries over the next few days, so please watch closely for instructions! This will be a real fun, casual ride with a slightly different feel than a cyclocross race, but you will still get a great workout with a bunch of cool people! I'm also going to add another twist: pointing you to a cause that I think needs some more serious attention in our society - the Clay Hunt Veteran Suicide Bill that is currently in the House of Representatives. I'm using our platform of staged battles on our bicycles to raise awareness on the very real issue of the mental issues soldiers face when they return from war. Please have a look at the Latest news on the issue, think about it, and write your congressperson if so inspired! You can also sign the Change.org petition.

Then, we come full circle to the race called Bandit Cross, with the ever-excellent Fanatik Bike Co. Racing Team pulling it all together for you. I'll be supervising and working with Red Tent closely to make sure our chip-timed results are totally dialed for Series Overall calculations to be made in time for our Awards Party immediately afterwards. This will be a special finale, not only for the reasons described above, but also because this will be my 50th race as a promoter of local cyclocross. You heard that right - 50! We have all the ingredients to make this a real special party to commemorate all this successful grassroots development, so please do not miss out!

Thank you, cyclocross warriors! I look forward to seeing more of you in 2015!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Well, my friends. In case you missed it (and many did), the Cross Border Clash at the DeltaTech Industrial Park on the day after Halloween was one of the best cyclocross courses, conditions, and scenes many of us veterans of this little Series have ever threaded together. How can I say that? Well, of course, I've been to every one (that's well over 40 races, folks). I, along with the Homegrown Racing Team pb Jacks Bicycle Center pieced together a bike racing festival at the Transition Bikes headquarters of the highest quality. On our fifth visit there, with the additions from Red Tent's upgraded timing & results system, volunteers at registration, a PA system rocking the iPod tunes, beer & taco vendors, neutral support and wheel pits from BikeSport Bellingham, spectators/hecklers with their bacon & fireball handups... you name a good 'cross element, and we had it!

You can read an excellent write-up with an equally excellent photo gallery from our friend Brett Whitehead on TheHoleshot.ca. We're really getting into a groove in this, our 9th season of incredible cyclocross! If you need even more reminiscing on how great the season has been so far, or just a taste of what the Cascade Cross scene is all about, read this fresh article on BBMX #2 from Chris Stevens at the Bicycle Paper.

And I quote: “The community spirit of this group of racers and volunteers is infectious... The racer in front of me actually looked back and asked, ‘Are you okay?’ That’s a level of courtesy I’ve never experienced in a decade of ‘cross, and I don’t think it’s an exception... But don’t be fooled by the laid-back mountain biker attitudes, the caliber of competition is high.” That's right, Chris. We'll loan you a wheel, then ride you off ours with excellent handling ability, power, and tenacious attitude, then treat you afterwards like a very welcome guest!

So why are people not coming out in the same numbers we've seen in the past? That's anyone's guess. Could it be us taking tight schedule spots next to nearby races in Seattle and/or Vancouver series? Could it be people still recuperating from four solid months of playing outdoors this summer? Could it be the reputation of derailleur-snapping mud at BBMX, then holding Border Clash the day after a drinking & late-night dancing holiday? Well, all those may have formerly been the case. Now, the other big series are wrapping up. Unless cyclocross is no longer the fastest growing discipline in cycling (besides enduros?), we can find no excuses for not seeing your muddy grin out on our varied & interesting turf!

If you haven't seen any Cascade Cross action yet this season, this Saturday is a perfect chance to hop on the fun train we're just getting up to full speed. You'll find us down on gorgeous Whidbey Island riding bikes around the radical Fort Nugent Park. I'm really excited to debut this venue to our many loyal series followers, as well as newcomers and the city of Oak Harbor itself. The community is welcoming us with open arms, with various businesses offering discounts and deals for race participants. For example:

   Candlewood Suites in Oak Harbor is offering group rates of $89 per night.
   The Coupeville Inn is offering 10% off their winter rates for lodging.
   Flyers Restaurant & Brewery will be serving food at the race and giving out $5 gift cards to racers for beer afterwards.
   Port Townsend Cyclery is donating prizes for 1st Place finishers in every category.

So you get the sense they're rolling out the red carpet for Bellingham-based cyclocross, don't you? Let's show them how amazing this community of cyclists is and go have a great day of racing! You won't be disappointed, and you'll be even more prepared for the big UCI race coming to town in early December. Or just strengthen your vocal muscles because if you do go to Waves For Water event in Tacoma, you better be shouting your head off for our rising local star Courtenay McFadden who just won her first UCI race on Day 3 at Jingle Cross in Iowa. I confirmed she will be there racing her heart out for the home crowd and hopefully another big win!

Here's another bit of info you might want to see before call ups on Saturday - your standings in the overall points after 3 races. Please let me know if you see anything needing correction. So yes, we still have 4 races to go in a 7 race series! Other series are packing up their bags just as the cyclocross weather is getting (how shall we say) consistent? That is to say, more challenging. But honestly folks, this is the heart of the cyclocross season in other similarly-cold parts of the world where the sport is dominant. It belongs in this weather! Once you take off from that start line, you should not feel cold again for at least another 40 minutes. So get your front wheel where it belongs - in front of our official calling out your name over the megaphone, tire pressure just right, ready to roll out between the tape and go flying through the beautiful courses that we have created for you right here at home in the beautiful PNW.

See you out there,

p.s. if you're into cross-country running and want to help keep the gates open at the Bellingham BMX venue, we've converted over to a BBMX Winter XC running series out there, starting with a 5K Christmas Cross run on Dec. 20th. Check it out!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

MOMENTUM. A bike should retain it naturally, but the mud robs it from you. The sand steals it. You squirm and crunch to put constant power onto your pedals to replenish the inertia. When that's not enough, you dismount and start running. That's cyclocross. It's what makes cyclocross hard to understand for the general public yet so addictive to those rare individuals that thrive on overcoming a challenge and seeing what they're made of.

This is especially true in the tough courses & conditions that Cascade Cross cooks up. We want to see you out there pushing yourself. We don't have an easy course and we don't have any easy races. When you get tired, look up and hear "3 laps to go!" we expect to hear you say “What!? No way!” then put your head down and keep going. We expect you to keep going until the friendly (yet cruel) man at the finish line flips the last board on the lap counter and shouts "You're done!"

And so it was at Bellingham BMX #2 last weekend. Once the rain really got under the hard summer skin of our permacourse venue, the infamous peanut butter mud emerged from the depths of that wicked clay soil. The season shifted quickly from all dry, bumpy, and fast courses to something more like a winter epic, and the hardness quotient was raised very quickly. We got what we were looking for out of Bellingham BMX this season, so I'm glad we went back after some “normal” fall weather! We're cooking up some new programs to keep the gates open at the venue this winter, so stay tuned on that front. We want to use the facility to its maximum potential, and we're open to suggestions!

If you missed the mud bath, I'M SORRY for you, but here's a close-up look at some of the action. Chris Stevens, who raced in the Master Men B field, has a photo set on Flickr as he prepares an article on the series for the upcoming Bicycle Paper issue. Going even deeper, we have a fantastic writeup and photo collection from Brett Whitehead at The Holeshot.ca. This was Brett's first race back with Cascade Cross after setting up his custom Donkelope Bike he won for finishing every race last season. What a nice surprise for him - all this mud! He has some real kind things to say about the Series and the Bellingham BMX permacourse that made my heart sing a bit. Thanks, Brett! It looks like that free bike frame is paying back some nice dividends for us.

Now recall that notion of keeping your momentum. The secret, in an individual 'cross race as well as your whole 'cross season, is getting that inertia up and keeping it! To keep momentum in this sport, when the weather & darkness tries to snuff out your enthusiasm for outdoor sport, when the couch begs you to keep it warm, the screen clamoring for your eyeballs - it takes immense drive. If you're just brushing off the bike this fall, here's a prime chance to light the fire under your ass, as we still have 5 races to go! If you've been rolling with us so far, I hope your kits, shoes, & bike are washed & dried, parts replaced, gears tuned, chains tightened & lubed... because we're moving straight onto the Border Clash!

This has become another classic PNW venue in our toolbag, and we're looking forward to re-igniting our friendly rivalry with the lads & lasses up north. The Jack's Bicycle Center/Homegrown Racing team was out at Transition's super-secret winter training lair last Sunday mowing & staking, lining out a cool race configuration for this Saturday, and we'll be wrapping up the taping on the afternoon of Halloween. Just one day of racing this year, so you can go race the MFG SCCA/Starbucks Gran Prix in WA, or Pumpkin Cross up in BC, or whatever floats your bike on Sunday, and NO FLYOVER!. Another surprise gift from Greg at Donkelope, that steep & vicious beast has seen its day of traveling all around Whatcom County. Just the usual sand, dirt berms, grass, singletrack, gravel, and asphalt! And now with chip-timing that we've come to trust, so you can look forward to a proper, full-speed finish line on the asphalt this year. I, for one, am looking forward to those all-out sprints! You can also expect an orderly call up procedure with YANKS vs. CANUCKS based on our newly posted Overall Series Points. And if you're not bumping, it's not racing!

See you out there,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Greetings, mud fans. I hope the steady rainstorms the past few weeks have made you as excited for genuine 'cross conditions as they have made me! I've got some key information for the upcoming races over the next two Saturdays.

First, if you missed the memo, we are headed back to Bellingham BMX this weekend for our 2nd race of the season. Why? Because after an excellent season opener there in mostly dry conditions, everyone asked for it! The track is in such good shape, and we put so much work into it over the past 1.5 years (including Mother Nature's own conditioning), it seemed like a crying shame to leave it alone for another year. We don't know what the soil will be like in the middle of winter - as we saw last November, it can get pretty saturated out there - but for now it's running solid! The dirt is still firm and holding up well, along with all the grass that came in, and water is moving off the grounds quickly. With the unseasonably warm weather we've been seeing, it's also just plain drying out.

Here's a nice write-up from Oct. 4th with photos from the Naked Racing Team out of Victoria, BC who came down to dominate some single-speed categories for the weekend. Contrast those conditions with late September 2013 when we first tested out the track. It was too wet to document, but it was comparable to #derailleurgate 2013 in Buffalo, NY. We've come a long ways from that anomaly of conditions!

This photo is from last Sunday in a swampy section we had to cover late last season because it was completely unrideable. Now we're ripping up the janky old plywood bridges to actually uncover some moist, loose dirt for you to play with!

So come on out and enjoy this track for another round, in the other direction. We're holding onto the Northern State Recreation Area in Sedro Woolley as a backup in our quiver of excellent venues should something fall through later in the season. Or even add a bonus date in January to help push the PNW season into the real 'cross weather. Stay tuned for that news!

The next item is concerning our new chip system from Red Tent Timing. We had some misreads at the last race and want to get that resolved. The theory is the disposable chips embedded on the back of the shoulder number were getting wrinkled depending on how they were pinned, and it ruined the signal. So the good team at Red Tent upgraded their hardware and ran some tests with multiple units on helmets and trailer bikes in the rain (pictured below). These chips are not disposable! They are actually $10 a piece. But they're pretty much weatherproof and the signal is proving rock solid in all conditions. So we'll be mounting these bad boys to your helmets for the next race. Please re-use your big bib for your back if you already have one. We will still be doing back-up hand scoring. The shoulder numbers are out for now. We could only afford to order about 300 of these, so not enough for everyone to use once and take home this season. So we will be asking for a $10 deposit at registration to make sure you come back after your race and return it. Thanks for working with us on this new system, and thanks to Trey & Camille for stepping up their game to make their system work for cyclocross!

Now, to get those elusive same-day, accurate results that we seek, we're going to have to ask you to pre-register, or register early on the Day Of! We need a half-hour before your race to get everyone into the timing system. Can you do that? Good, I knew you could.

Other new rules I gotta lay down - a little squirrel out on the Guide Meridian told me some locals have been poaching the cyclocross permacourse when the facility is closed. That's not kewl, folks! This is private property, not a public park. You need to pay to play or we can't cover the dang rent! Furthermore, parking at neighboring businesses or residences is definitely not cool! Some of these neighbors were negative about the county permitting this facility in the first place. They were worried about noise, lights, and... rogue vehicles in their driveway!? Do you really want to be the guy that made Bellingham BMX lose their permit? The rules for practicing are stated on this weekend's race page and are pretty simple - when the gate is open for either BMX racing/practice, or we're out their working for CX. No freeloading! We'll work on a club-type access if that's what people are really clamoring for, but I had not heard many requests of this type. I thought I made this rule pretty clear - please honor it.

What else? We've got the Jack's Bicycle Center/Homegrown Racing Team working hard to organize our Border Clash out at the Transition Bikes headquarters. That venue has become another favorite we have right here in our home county - lots of good interesting features to challenge you. I'm excited to see what they've mixed up out there while I've been busy dialing down the BBMX venue. Of course, you probably figured out it's not a double-header anymore. I wrote about that extensively in the Sept. 12th post below. We're going with the flow here - dropping races that don't quite fit, but as I said above, adding new ones when the opportunity arises.

Speaking of which - we're tentatively adding a race, so those 2014 Series Passes which are on sale until this Friday are still looking like a great price for consistent racers out there! To further sweeten the deal, we arranged a group discount for Series Pass holders to go see a bike-centric circus act called Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk at the Mount Baker Theatre last week. So we're finding ways to show that membership has its privileges.

Keeping it fresh, keeping it rich, keeping it real - that's Cascade Cross!

See you out there,

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Words of advice for tomorrow to help us all run smoothly:

  • Park respectably/carpool/ride out. Space is limited! Listen to the attendants. Drop your gear & family, then use the overflow lot at Kelly Rd.
  • Refer to the course map for team tent placement & wheel pits.
  • Register for your race early (if you didn't already pre-reg).
  • Pick up your 2013 prizes if you podiumed last season!
  • Take off your MFG/Cross Revolution timing chip!
  • Don't go near or across the finish line unless you're in a race!
  • Bring cash and buy Kulshan IPA to support the track!
  • Buy tacos from Tapatios Taco Truck.
  • Run dry condition tires, but not too firm. It's a bit bumpy.
  • Try to ride the stairs so we can see if it's possible.
  • Watch out for alligators!
  • Have fun!

We'll see you out there!

Bellingham BMX course map

Friday, September 26, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

I've got a few more news items to sprinkle on you this week before our opening act. Okay, I'm giving you a good soaking, just like the permacourse got this week! Good thing I left the grass tall...

First, 2014 Series Passes are now available on BikeReg, in addition to pre-reg for Bellingham BMX on Oct. 4. With a Series Pass, you get all six races for the price of five (at pre-reg prices), plus the Prologue will be free. You can also pay for these at day-of registration with a check or cash, all the way up to the second race at Woolley Cross. You'll notice a few pricing changes. Sorry, ladies, no more discount. Gratefully, women's cyclocross is raising to the level of the men on the big scene. Equal prize money, large fields, full media coverage, and all the same crowds. We'd love to keep subsidizing you until the amateur field sizes are the same as the guys, but unfortunately we can't afford it. Judging by your facial expressions and the amount of laughing in our women's only field, you ladies are enjoying yourselves more than the guys. So I guess we can say you are getting more for your money already!

Now, about that Prologue. Here's how it's gonna work. At 10am tomorrow, we will have a 3 hour course-building session before the warm-ups begin at 1pm. That is an open invite to come contribute to your local cyclocross scene. Is it mandatory? No. Is this Series going to continue to thrive if a certain portion of the community doesn't step up and lend a hand at every race? No, it won't. We could use 15-20 bodies on deck to make this go quickly. And that will be the story at every race (though typically on Friday evening the night before). This is the theme of 2014 - the Year of the Collective. This is grassroots, organically-grown, community-powered 'cross in every sense of the word.

I am creating 20 vouchers for a free entry into a Cascade Cross race for every course build. 10 will go to the club that is sponsoring the event. 10 will be reserved for all-comers. Our series has always pretty much worked this way, but I am formalizing it to make sure the job gets done. No one will be out busting their butt in a rainstorm alone in the dark trying to make a fun time for everyone else but failing miserably at it. It's the stuff of nightmares. So arrive at 10 a.m. tomorrow and put 3 hours of work in on your local permacourse. 20 people will get into the Prologue free because there is not an official sponsoring team tomorrow. All proceeds are going to Bellingham BMX.

That bears repeating: ALL PROLOGUE PROCEEDS ARE GOING TO BELLINGHAM BMX. Event fees are the only real way that the lease gets paid at this property. This property exists for cycling only. When BMX racing can't operate (i.e. it's winter and/or raining), there is no revenue. 'Cross can fill a small gap in the season, but it won't keep the gates open indefinitely without some real community support. We won't be able to afford new features on this property without more support - that is generosity, sweat equity, and ingenuity. Even with donated or cheap labor, heavy equipment and materials are not free, unfortunately. $15 is the suggested donation tomorrow to keep this project alive. Give what you can. Do you have a business that wants to sponsor a new feature, such as a sandpit or staircase? Talk to me. We'll put your name all over it. Sponsor the BMX track. Do what you can. Ante up. Keep the venue alive.

One more thing: here's your inspirational tune for the opening of Cascade Cross season. See you tomorrow. I hope you put your knobbies on!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Well hello, Fall. Nice to see your true colors coming into bloom here. We see your dark, cold, & wet. It feels familiar. It feels good. It feels like cyclocross season! So let's not delay any further and get riding! Here's the hot news this week:

First, a dedicated Cascade Cross attendee from up north, Brett Whitehead, is running a cool website focused on Pacific Northwest cyclocross called theHoleshot.ca. Brett was also the lucky winner of the custom Donkelope Bikes frame contest last season. He broke down the series of fortunate events that lead to his proud ownership of this hot, red cyclocross device in a recent blog post called The Time I Won a Frame. Go re-live that exciting outcome to last season's shenanigans and get sneak a peek at this work of local bike-building art.

Thanks so much to Greg Heath for sponsoring this highly-entertaining contest! After volunteering to build our first flyover (which was pretty dang tall), he raised his support for Bellingham cyclocross to a whole 'nother level with this one! What good things will befall you if you race AND FINISH all six races this season? You may just have to take a gamble to find out. Just remember that we treat our loyal racers well!

We talked in the last blog post about some changes in the series this year - some good, some bad. Here's another one: the single-speeders will be reuniting into one category again. United is good! The bad news (for some) is you will all be in the last race of the day with the A Men. Here's why: the SS A category was a relatively new idea (by request) to give the fastest single-speeders more of a challenge and swelled to as many as 17 racers at Woolley Cross 2012. Then last year it was down to just a few of the fastest & toughest guys. Apparently no one wanted to be off the back or get lapped. Another problem last year was with the size of the B race. We had as many as 100 in this field at our opener but only 30 or so in the A race. Having all the single-speeders in the A field will provide a better distribution of bikes & bodies throughout the day. It's better for spectators to see racers all over the course and it's even better for A Men who are struggling to keep pace - they will still have someone to race! Will the slowest single-speeder get lapped? Sure they will. They probably don't care. That's 'cross racing so get used to it! You'll wind up doing the same number of laps as you would have in the B race and get challenged a bit more in the process. Singlespeed is about the challenge, right? See the Categories page for clarification on start times.

The next news item is a smoking hot one. I'm pleased to announce our brand spanking new partnership with Red Tent Timing - powered by Trey and Camille Wilson out of Olympia, WA - to bring chip-timed results to Cascade Cross for the first time. This crew cut their timing chops scoring Enduros for the Cascadia Dirt Cup (the final of which is in Bellingham on Oct. 19) and the Washington Student League's high school cross-country mountain bike races this season. We are excited to help bring up a new player in digital scoring for the PNW CX scene and keep the cross-discipline spirit of our regional cycling community alive & well. Of course, it's all about giving our racers a better race day experience with faster, more accurate results. We can hopefully have proper sprint finish straights (instead of some contrived finish line to slow you down enough for a human to read your numbers)! We hope to publish individual lap times and offer some fastest lap glory, as well. Welcome, Trey and Camille!

Here are some new logistics you will need to get the hang of: Red Tent will be affixing the chips to the back of shoulder numbers. These will be worn on your left, along with the usual large bib on your back left hip. You will keep your number for the season, as customary. Do not roll up, fold, or otherwise abuse the shoulder number with the chip on it! Keep it flat. Keep it dry. If you lose or forget your number, we will issue you a new one. You need to NOT wear a timing chip on your helmet from one of the other CX scoring outfits. If we see you at the start line with one, we will make you take it off. You need to NOT ride through the finish line when you are warming up, or go anywhere near the finish line with your chip on. If you do, you will get yelled at. We don't like yelling at people. This is a deviation from our usual lackadaisical style about pre-riding, but fairly customary at any other big cyclocross race you attend. Please don't be that guy. Warm up, inspect the course, stay out of the way of riders still racing - we are still small enough to allow this luxury - but DON'T EVER CROSS THE FINISH LINE UNLESS YOU ARE RACING. Thanks, kids. This will be fun.

Speaking of new partnerships, let me fill you in on another goodie. The newest bike shop in town, Bikesport Bellingham, has stepped up and committed to providing neutral mechanical support at every race this season. They will also be responsible for making sure a good wheel pit is set up complete with bike racks. This was not an easy decision for me due to several bike shop loyalties I have formed over the 15 years of riding bikes in this town, but owner Scott Kowal has stepped up to the plate to fully support this 'cross series. That's the kind of commitment we need to keep this mud train rolling smooth, so if they're game, we're game. Welcome to the pits, Scott!

Now, in the days leading up to the Prologue this Saturday, let's talk about the weather. Luckily, it has been raining this week. Hard. Those who dabbled in our first test event at Bellingham BMX last season may be recoiling in fear. The course was sooooo muddy. However, keep in mind we saw nearly four times the average rainfall for September by this point last year. We also had bare, fresh dirt from our extensive equipment work getting the course cleared of old, bumpy grass that just turned to complete goo. It was sort of a perfect storm. It dried out in time for our season opener, though. We groomed it and the track got tacky and even shaped into nice burms. Now, this year September has only had a fraction of average rainfall. That soil has a long way to go before reaching the saturation point. In fact, it was rock hard and bumpy the last time I checked it, so this moisture will help soften it up and make for some challenging bike handling instead of just hard & fast riding. You know, good 'cross! In addition to a few more bridges over some particular trouble spots, we also have a feature Mother Nature added - a nice, new bed of grass which I have been keeping short. Here's my little mowing helper showing off the green earlier this summer.

It has filled in even more since then, so we are in an entirely different ballpark this year. I look forward to seeing a bunch of you there to test the new grass and blow off your cobwebs for a big season ahead.

If you're looking for more 'cross to fill in the dark, wet days ahead, check the sidebar for some new series cropping up around the PNW. I also hear little birdies chirping to me about CX events just over the border looking to draw some U.S. participation. FOR EXAMPLE, this Sunday, Sept. 28, the fine folks up at Vanier Park CX will let you race for just $20 USD with proof of residence. West Coast Cycling will cover your one-day insurance if you need it. It's a beautiful venue right on the water in downtown Vancouver (just 55 miles to the north of Bellingham), and Sven is a great promoter who loves 'cross. Go check them out!

See you soon!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Descending darkness. A chill in the air. A few heavy rain storms. Leaves rattling across the ground...

If you are a mushroom hunter, you're hyper eager to get into the woods, to start looking around the forest floor for caps pushing up through the duff. If you're a hungry cyclocross racer or spectator, however, the clues that Fall is here are a bit different.

The biggest cyclocross series in Washington, i.e. MFG, is underway, with racers' shoes already filled with sand. CrossVegas happened, with Sven already notching a solid win and collecting the first UCI points up for grabs this season, as well as our local Bellingham pro Courtenay McFadden getting some serious screen time! StarCrossed is happening this weekend, with the bright velodrome lights and rowdy party on tap in Redmond to welcome the big-time pros to Washington. The cowbells are ringing. The beer is flowing. The tires are pressured (but not tooo pressured). It's go time!

Enough with the saliva-inducing prose! Let's get down to some serious Cascade Cross business. I have a couple big announcements to clear up any questions about the series this year - some good, some bad, some we-don't-know-yet.

First, the bad: the Silver Lake Outdoor Festival was tragically shelved. Those who were smart enough to venture out the Mt. Baker Highway last October to experience this gorgeous venue (pictured above) were treated to a rare experience - camping, live music, scenic surroundings, fresh air, and an awesome course. It had room for improvement, which I devised shortly after experiencing the course from the racer's perspective (as I always do). The best part of this course, by our standards, was the campground. It had banks and dirt and trees and the RUN-UP! I planned to expand our use of that area while compacting other areas to keep a similar length but slow it down a bit (lap times were fast), improve spectating, reduce conflicts with other park users, etc. We learned a few lessons about how big of a spectacle to throw that far out of town (attendance was light for the effort), but we were still prepared to provide an excellent but perhaps more subdued experience in the early part of our season.

Unfortunately, the Whatcom County Parks Department, when reviewing our course proposal this year, decided that layout was unworkable for them based on their 'vision' for the park. They only want campers who fish and chill in their camp chair or sit in their RVs, apparently. We were priced out of bringing an effective fundraiser for the Friends of the Deming Library back to Silver Lake Park. That is, one provider of public county services turning away another provider of county public services. That's a pretty selfish and short-term perspective, if you ask me. What's your opinion? What's your vision for the future of recreation in Whatcom County? Maybe you should share it.

From 8 race days in our series last year, that drops us down to 7. Then, we are taking away Day 2 of the esteemed Cross Border Clash. A little backstory: this double-header was always intended to be 100% international, that is, hosted in Canada on Sunday. However, due to huge differences in race licensing & event insurance approaches between BC and WA, this could never happen in a fair way. So we ran the same course backwards and always had a great time. We put the work into building the course on a private venue, so why not leave it up and use it again? Sunday turnout was always a bit light, but that didn't matter. We had fun, and our only Sunday race all year.

An open cyclocross Sunday in WA in the range of September-November is very hard to come by (see previous post for a rant on that), so we conflict. Initially, we conflicted with the Seattle series in Enumclaw, which we heard was a cool venue, but it's pretty far away and you needed a USAC license. Then we conflicted with Seattle series in Silver Lake (Everett). This year, we would conflict with MFG #5 back at Marymoor Park. We don't conflict with MFG. When opportunities arise, we partner with them. They may have a different flavor of course in Seattle then we do up here, but everything else they do is totally legit (in fact, the Cross Border Clash was originally Terry B's idea, and we tried to host it in Arlington at a venue Papa Berg suggested. He's pictured on their event page). For one, you're racing in field sizes of 100, not 30. It's a different kind of experience. So go down to Redmond and get yer points!

That does leave us with a small dilemma on how to award points for the Clash Cup, but we'll sort that out later. It also drops us down to 6 races. That's still a respectable series size (in fact the same as MFG), and you can add to that our Prologue and ever-popular Fun-Alley Race & Party, and you've got a nice full season of local 'cross ahead!

Now for the good news everybody wants to hear - new venues! Brad Nelson, who came out of nowhere (actually, Indiana) and swept up the Mens B overall last season, has partnered up with his new hometown club, the Whidbey Island Bicycle Club, and the city of Oak Harbor, to host our first venue in Island County. Whidbey Island has certainly been within our range of possibility before. I made the effort some years ago to get permission at Fort Casey down by the Keystone Ferry to Port Angeles, but to no avail. No worries! The city park these folks arranged for is perhaps superior in features & facilities, and having motivated, local resources on hand to get it prepped is invaluable. So I awarded them the Thanks Given'er. Please check it out and support their efforts!

That should be enough to whet your appetite for now. Other than these few changes, expect the same high degree of 'cross quality we have become reputable for around the Pacific Northwest. We've been at this for 8 years now (the same amount of time as CrossVegas, ironically), and we pride ourselves in the 3 Cs of great 'cross: courses, camaraderie, and competition!

Look for more specific announcements on the Bellingham BMX venue to leak out over the next two weeks. Check our Facebook page and Twitter feed (linked in the sidebar). I need to go glue a tubular. What are you doing to get ready?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

I'm a bit delayed in posting this, but I've got some very exciting news! Next week, Aug. 19-22, your child can take advantage of two great professional cyclocross ladies running a camp in our very own series finale venue of Cornwall Park. Courtenay McFadden and Jessica Cutler are running the show with the assistance of Shannon Mallory, and it's brought to you by our new neutral-support provider, Bikesport Bellingham.

Download the Information & Registration Packet and go get dirty, kids!

So what brings you here today? Let me guess. You've been dialing in your new cyclocross machine. You've started doing interval work. It rained once. You're getting amped. You need more motivation - food for your mental game. You want to get fired up! So you're trolling the interwebs looking for Pacific Northwest Cyclocross calendars. When's my first race? When's my 2nd, 3rd... 8th race?!? You've got fitness peaks to plan! You've got lots of traveling and planning to do! Well, if that's your situation, you're in luck. There is an absolute plethora of cyclocross surrounding you in the months to come. Yes, you have a plethora. Well... at least for three months, you do.

Did you happen upon this nifty new all-in-one international calendar from The HoleShot.ca? Click through a few months. Did you notice anything unusual about December and January? How there's only one series in the region with races in those months? You know, the time when cyclocross hits full swing in the motherland? Yes, I'm talking about the Kerstperiode.

This year, our series races are down to 6 races from 8 (more on that later), with 8 events total on the schedule (including a prologue and finale party ride/treasure hunt). Three of those events are in Sept/Oct, two are in November, and three are in Dec/Jan. That's over 1/3 or our season taking place after everyone else in the 'hood has packed up & gone home. What does an avid racer do for consistency in that time period? Crickets...

Let me tell you why Cascade Cross has been and will continue to be the standout in making a seasonal shift in Washington CX a priority:
1) Cyclocross should be raced when it is cold, wet, and dark. Not (I repeat, NOT) hot, dusty and sunny. It's bad for your lungs!
2) We need more local races at least in the same month as U.S. Nationals.
3) I do other things in July and August besides hardcore CX planning. And so should you.

Our humble little series does not start until October. Our neck hair doesn't even twitch until September. We're like the Dalmatian that sleeps through the fire alarm because, you know what? False alarm. I know a real fire when I smell one. And when I say fire, I mean mud bath.

Trust that you will see more information from me on our big season ahead in short order. Trust that there's been plenty on the back burners here all year long, now coming to a low simmer. Trust that the days and locations are all arranged. It's alright. For the moment, be in the moment. It's still summertime!

Ask yourself this question right now. What can I do to bring cyclocross back to its proper, traditional place in the annual calendar? What can I do to shift my focus & amp level for 'cross from Aug-Sept-Oct-Nov to Oct-Nov-Dec-Jan, or (gasp!) even Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb?

I would humbly suggest you go swimming right now. Go camping. Go fruit picking. Okay, go for a long mountain bike ride. That should help. If it doesn't, try listening to this song.

And when you feel
Like you just can't stop
Obsessing about your September CX calendar
Worrying if Cascade Cross still exists
Whether Ryan has hung up his mud boots
You need to calm it down.
Calm it down.
You need to calm it down.

See you soon, mud fans!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

We just blasted through another two weekends of amazing cyclocross racing since my last post. I would hardly believe if you told me at the end of September that October would be a solid month of dry weather! Even with the fog banks and low clouds that socked in the lowlands by the bay for a week or more, we lucked out on race day once again at Woolley Cross. Sunshine, pleasant temps, amazing views, children frolicking & giggling in the grass and through the kids stunts, and not to forget... real hard racing! Marshall's new layout was very spectator friendly with everyone gathering in the main field (totally weather dependent). It also added more climbing to what is a deceptively elevation-laden cyclocross race! Add a stiff run-up, some slow grass, tricky gravel corners - this was no walk in the park, literally! Thanks everyone for coming out and making for some great racing.

The Cross Border Clash was just epic. I know that word is overused, but it should have been reserved for weekends like this. Huge turnouts, ridiculously challenging weather on Saturday, beautiful weather on Sunday, life changing obstacles, spirals with no end, pump tracks turned into lakes, tents lost, cups won...

That's right, despite the gigantic invasion of quality racers from up north, the good 'ol USA will be retaining the Clash Cup for 2013. Sorry, neighbors! Excellent effort. Let's do some quick analysis: America took only 66 points more than last year, a 6% increase. Canada took 153 more points than 2012 and an 18% increase. That's impressive, but a lot of this comes down to not leaving points on the table, especially on Sunday. Some categories saw zero riders from one side or the other. Other fields were stacked! But you only score 3 deep. It's all about distribution!

Well, we raised some money for Courtenay McFadden's excellent season and sent her on way to more national-level races. We put the winners from her raffle up on a Facebook post. Lucky me, I got invited to a crab feed! If you didn't claim your raffle prizes yet, please contact me, I have them. She's busy training or traveling! We've got a couple bags of Clif product and a really nice CCX Moen cowbell floating around.

So what's next? A lot of people have been asking. I'm glad you're all pumped to keep racing while the other series wind down, so I'll let you in on a little secret. Let me paint it in a picture for you: Imagine a fast-paced battle scene in an old Western movie. The lead character is flying along on horseback dodging arrows from the left & right. Then he comes under a little too much fire and bends backwards to get low. The horse hits a few bumps, jumps over a log. Our hero is caught off guard, bucked off and hurdled to the ground. He doesn't get left behind, however. His foot is still caught in the stirrup. So he gets dragged along through the rocks & underbrush, arrows still flying and the horse gaining speed with little control. He's taking some pretty big hits, his shirt is torn, he's beaten up but not broken... and he's not done fighting! It takes him a minute but he manages to sit up, starts to hoist himself up and reach for the saddle, and finally grabs back hold of the reigns. He can start to steer the horse again...

That's where we are today. If you haven't figured it out yet, the horse is this series, and the rider is me. We were going a bit too fast & furious in October and into November. It was probably fun to observe and certainly to participate in, but let me tell you, I felt every bump on that ground. I need a little rest & recovery period.

Lutherwood is a fantastic venue. We had a great time last year down there at the Thanks Given'er by Lake Samish, and we want to do it again! We want to do it right. It's got all the ingredients for a big, full weekend of riding bikes. But I can't plan & execute a fourth festival-type weekend within six weeks. I just can't do it! Maybe with better planning, better calendar distribution, better delegation... but maybe it's not humanly possible to promote this much amazing cyclocross in such a short window. We'll see in 2014 - I'm hatching plans & making deals to spread the load! Right now I just need something simple, something fun, and something close... Hey, lucky us! We've got a permanent cyclocross venue right here in town. And we only raced it once so far. Let's do it again - backwards!

I rode the Bellingham BMX permacourse last night in the rain, and it's holding up surprisingly well in this wet weather. It didn't rain there for a month after we raced on it, and the track is good & solidified in most places. There are a few problem spots that many of us know all too well, and we're going out there to tackle them starting this weekend! Thanks to Brooks Mfg. and Cascade Lumber, we are launching our bridge-building projects! Come on out on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Tamp some ruts, rake some leaves, pick up some blow down branches, fix some course tape, ride some hot laps and get tuned up for the big MFG Woodland Park finale on Sunday. We can handle a little mud. I mean after the Border Clash last Saturday, I think we can handle anything!

Lutherwood is still on the calendar, moved to Dec. 14th. This will replace Thriller Cross at Civic Fields that we've known & loved for five years. Not only did the venue not "stand up" to bad weather last December, we've also run it both directions several times and the interesting layout options are just about exhausted, including all the snowpiles, zombie shortcuts, and skinnies we've tossed in. We will still keep our Zombie Christmas costume theme alive & well! I'm working on an agreement with a local crew to lead the guided trail riding on Sunday. Not enough people took advantage of this last year! Maybe after the Chuckanut Enduro people will take notice - we're at the doorstep of an amazing trail network, and that was just a taste! Come camp out, sit by a giant fire, and go adventuring in the Chuckanuts with us.

One more thing: Tim Ross hurt himself pretty bad on the sandpit skinny last weekend at Transition HQ, but he's rallying to still be take part in this amazing cyclocross community for the rest of the season. He wants to come out and spectate on Nov. 16th. Let's show him our support and help him get back on his feet. We'll be doing a Thanks Given'er fundraiser!

Speaking of giving thanks... thanks for your understanding. Thanks for your participation & resolve to keep coming back, to finish the race no matter how tough. Thanks for your smiles and words of encouragement. Thanks for digging into an incredible five races so far and being stoked for three more! Thanks for being a part of the Cascade Cross Series!

See you out there,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

We've had three amazing weekends of weather so far in October and three amazing weekends full of super rad off-road bicycling events in & around Bellingham. First, of course, was the big Bellingham BMX venue debut described in my previous post. If that doesn't give you a sense of the excitement and fun folks young & old all had that day, try out this touching 3-minute video directed by Sam Giffin of Right On Brother Films. We made this for an entry into the WMBC Shoot the Trails fundraising event last Saturday. We didn't win anything in the contest, but that's okay. It not only put cyclocross and this venue into the eyes of the more downhill-oriented crowd, but they saw some great BMX racing action, too! Plus $16,000 was raised for trail development & maintenance in our area! Woop! Woop! It's all fun!

Before we get into last weekend too far, let's pause to reflect on the beautiful & fun-filled weekend that was Silver Lake Double Cross on Oct. 12-13. The Friends of the Deming Library put a huge amount of effort into impressing our guests on what was likely many folks' first visit to this relatively secret valley. Boy, did they deliver! It had everything promised - a rad DJ while we raced, a Kulshan Brewery beer garden, a live band, camping & cabins, a popular kids obstacle course, a tough 5K/10K run on Sunday... but not many expected such glorious weather and a truly breath-taking setting for hosting a 'cross race!

The course itself was a nice mix of twisty dirt in the woods, some asphalt, and all out drag-racing in long, grassy straights & hills (exacerbated by some wind later in the day). We saw road or even velodrome-style tactics during the A Men's race amongst the three leaders: Rusty Dodge, Toby Swanson (the previous week's winner) and the eventual winner this week, Chris McNeil of Kamloops, BC. Most everyone left a bit too early because the party rocked throughout the campground Saturday night. Make sure you book the full weekend out there next year - we've got plenty of room for everyone! I already scouted out a new layout for the Saturday event, and after suffering through the 10K trail run myself, I've got my eyes on some more possibilities in the forest that we can use for another cycling event on Sunday, too. Stay tuned to that channel!

Let's jump back to last Sunday, October 20, to highlight a brand new & very welcome event in town, the Chuckanut Enduro. This sold-out event showcased a lot of world-class terrain right in our own backyard and challenged even the sturdiest of riders. Logan Wetzel, who races often at Cascade Cross, had the fastest combined times (with his hardtail!) while Lars Sternberg and Darrin Seeds of Transition Bikes (hosts of the Cross Border Clash) rounded out the podium. They have been known to rock the Singlespeed A category from time to time, so you see where I'm taking this! Enduro, cyclocross, BMX - we do it all here & we do it well! Well-rounded riders are the name of our game. The Cascadia Dirt Cup is a very welcome addition to the quiver of events in Washington, so we hope you'll check it out next year. See, you can even do it on your hardtail! The Bellingham trail community also rallied in a big way to, again, give everyone from local beginners to visiting pros a top-notch experience and fun, friendly weekend. It's what we do!

Alright, that's the month in review so far. Let's move onto the next two weeks. The fall bike action just don't stop!

Next up, of course, is one of the classic races in our series, Woolley Cross. With the drier weather we've had lately, Marshall has his eyes on moving race headquarters from the old barn structures to the main field where the group shelter and run-up are located. This is more spectator friendly and a better layout for double-sided pits, etc. I'll be walking the course with him tomorrow night and getting a grip on this new layout. I look forward to racing it myself! Pre-registration is now open on BikeReg.com - don't forget to bring back your bib number if you have it!

Then, in the first weekend of November, we have what is rapidly becoming the biggest race weekend of the season in our quiet, little corner of the country. Yes, that's right, the battle for the cup. Canadians came in force to the 2013 season opener which can only be a bellwether for what's in store this year. The Canucks definitely fought valiantly last year, ringing up a lot more Clash Cup points then 2011 and even dominating several categories. The Yanks are going to have to bring their A game in 2013!

We've got some exciting new additions to the weekend mix to make the trip even more worth your while. Saturday is a fundraiser for a local cyclocross racer who's been in or near the Top 10 of Who's #1 of the Elite Women of U.S. cyclocross all year, Courtenay McFadden! She needs a bit of assistance to get herself to national-level races through the National Championships in January, so there will be special events all day Saturday to bring her closer to you, the average or even brand new racer, and hopefully put your pocket book closer to her! If you can't make it, here's the place to donate now.

I'm also pleased to announce the opening of a new hotel in town, the Springhill Suites Marriott near the corner of Northwest Ave and Bakerview Rd. This is close to Bellingham BMX as well as to Ferndale, and they will be offering group rates for the Border Clash and any other major event we hold in town. I just took a tour (they opened last weekend) and it's a very pleasant atmosphere. I'm hoping to rope Courtenay into a meet-and-greet at the Chuckanut Bar there Saturday night after the first day of the Clash. Stay tuned for that!

I've got other details coming together for the big weekend, don't you worry. Did I mention the custom cyclocross pumptrack being shaped right now? Don't worry - it's all coming along. Meanwhile, let's just race our bikes in the beautiful foothills of Sedro Woolley. See y'all down south in a few days!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

I need to start this news report by waxing a bit philosophical. Someone recently told me that virtuousness is found in between two vices - so in our case, courage falls on the fine line between timidity and recklessness. I believe the hugely popular experience last Saturday at the debut of our permanent CX track at Bellingham BMX is due to successfully finding this balance point. It would have been reckless to send the 250 anxious & curious attendees that came from Portland, OR to Victoria, BC to see what this new venue had in store out to a ridiculous amount of suffering, running, & bike carnage (as we did with 55 locals the weekend prior). However, it would have been timid to pack it & run to an alternate venue when we worked so hard on this for six months! And the forecast favored the brave. I've never totally counted on a forecast for a 'cross race before (it's 'cross, you get what you get!), but this time I did, and it paid off!

The relentless rain of late September finally stayed away after Wed. night, and the soil was dry enough by Friday afternoon that we could get into seriously grooming the track. We pulled out the 4-wheeler and our 100lb chain harrow, strapped some tires on it to really weigh it down, and started rallying the track to knock down the quickly hardening ruts. What remained is something I called cyclocross corduroy, like you would find at a freshly groomed ski hill. It's pretty incredible what you can do on a handbuilt course with some light equipment and a few dedicated people!

Saturday dawned with no moisture, not even a dew drop, so this slightly damp dirt packed down real nice as the C riders practiced the course. The day went on to warm up considerably, so the track just got better & better! The A Men were railing in some real nice lines and reported tacky, flowy conditions except for the few short problem areas (a ditch and the swamp entrance to the woods). You wouldn't even recognize the place at the end of Saturday compared to one week prior - it was just the course I dreamed of making!

So here are the results from the Bellingham BMX debut. We had some hotshot riders from Kona make an appearance, with Wendy Simms blowing apart the A field during the new Women Only Hour, and Toby Swanson battling Erik Tonkin for an hour to take the A Men victory. It was by far our largest turnout in Bellingham for a 'cross race and my eight seasons of doing this, and one of the funnest local bike racing days in memory! Having the BMX races running simultaneously turned out way better than expected and also made for some amazing film footage (which you will see in the WMBC Shoot the Trails film competition & fundraiser on Oct. 19th). Maybe you will see yourself in there!

I've been getting some great feedback all around that this course was very enjoyable and that our hard work (and gamble on the weather) was all worth it. How rewarding! The really great news is we don't have to take it down! In fact, on Monday evening we already had some guys riding it that missed the race on Saturday. We'll be opening the gate whenever we can to give the public access to this local cyclocross treasure. This week that happens to be during the BMX practice on Thursday, Oct. 10th, from 5pm to Dark (the woods get dark first). Just pay $5 at the BMX registration window and go to town! The forecast looks good and the tire-compacted lines are holding up well to the intermittent moisture we've seen. We'll get the real problem areas addressed as soon as we can - for example, we just picked up a huge donation of treated 4x4 lumber from Brooks Manufacturing so we can start building some bridges, even some mountain bike skinnies for skill sections! This is a long-term project and we're just stoked to have survived Phase 2 (the BMX launch in June being Phase 1) and to have given everyone big smiles and an excellent day getting muddy on their bicycles.

Now we're right onto the next big new event, this weekend's CCX #2, called the Silver Lake Double Cross out in Maple Falls, which I'm hearing has caused some confusion. The double is for two types of cross, cyclo-cross and cross-country running! Yes, the event on Sunday is only a 5K/10K run, not a cyclocross race! It is intended for those who do both (and we all know running is good for your 'cross!), or for a partner who does one but not the other, so the whole family can come out, camp, enjoy the festivities, and get in their favorite form of outdoor exercise & competition. We will try to add another cycling event on Sunday in the future, but this is a great start in a gorgeous location with a family-friendly festival atmosphere & lots of fun things to do both days! It's also another totally new CX course, which should be a fun mix of grass, gravel trail, asphalt, and forest floor. Also note there is no cell service out there, so you can look forward to some real quiet time! I hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

We had a little bit of weather last weekend for the BBMX Prologue. Okay, A LOT of weather. In fact, we received over 1/2 inch of rain during the three hour window of the event, and 75% of the total average September rainfall for Bellingham (~1.8") in THAT ONE DAY! The intent was to test this very fresh track. Instead, we demolished it. We also demolished a good number of derailleurs and jammed frames with peanut butter mud. You see, as described in the write-up for the race formerly-known-as MFG Cross Combo, we scraped off the top layer of grass because it was too bumpy and unsalvageable. We just finished grooming it two weeks ago. It wasn't ready for this record-breaking gnarly! September weather leading up to our big permacourse debut.

We know MFG at Lake Sammamish got hammered in an epic way and had a slogfest of their own! We know Portland's Cross Crusade at the Battle at Barlow did, too (in some hilarious ways). The difference is they're not returning to those venues this weekend for their season opener and track debut. But we are! Bellingham BMX is what we worked on all summer, it's the one we planned for, and with a stacked schedule for the next few weeks at our other nearby venues, there's no moving now!

Nevertheless, we don't intend to send you out on a course that's 60% or greater running (like Civic became last December). We don't intend to send your rear derailleur out to its certain death (but we might recommend singlespeed)! We are making this decision based primarily on three factors: the weather forecast, our knowledge of how the dirt changes out there, and our willingness to put in three nights of work on it after the rain is supposed to stop tomorrow.

So to expand on these decision points: Right now we see two days of 0% chance precip leading up to the first day of racing. That is, we've got some sufficient time for the dirt to dry out and give our crews a chance to restore the track to the somewhat smooth surface it was two weeks ago. The BMX track operator has very specific experience dealing with this very thing getting this track running for State qualifier races this past June, and he says one day makes all the difference! We can also bridge up or cover the worst areas with some other materials, for example the 60 or so 10' treated 4x4s recently donated by Brooks Mfg. We have time to do this because the track is close to town and the course is already set. We are 100% focused on making this rideable for Saturday!

MFG made their decision to not come north based on a different calculus. One, they have 5 or 6 times the turnouts of our average race of around 150 participants. Two, they can source a backup venue closer to home that is more certain to be in good condition, so they can make the call today instead of on Friday. Three, they probably don't want to get dirty seconds on Sunday! Lastly, and most importantly, they can come back next year when it's running perfect!

We are thankful for the fascination and faith of Terry & Zac at MFG in our project here. We're glad they want to bring their people to Bellingham, because we're proud of where we live & ride, of course, and we're darn good hosts! We appreciate the motivation for getting this amazing course SO CLOSE to ready for this very unusual fall 'cross season. It will happen in the very near future, and it will only be better with the full year of great anticipation, not to mention more features & improvements! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I hope to see you out there, getting muddy somewhere!


Monday, September 09, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

“All the News That's Fit to Print!” Actually, it won't fit. It will run right off this page and onto the floor. Buckle up and hold on for the entire ride, please - I have been so busy making news that I haven't had time to write it up!

Furthermore, 'cross itself seems to be blowing up in ways those who have been in the sport a long time may have never anticipated. I am personally excited for how big 'cross will be in Bellingham in 2013, and it's not all my doing. But here is what I have been doing:

Starting before April and progressing almost continually since then, I have been working out at a 30-acre lot that happens to also be the home of the newly developed Bellingham BMX track (I've also been racing BMX for the first time - yeehaw!). I was new to that community, but I jumped in to lend a hand. They had quite a mission to get the BMX track funded, built, and open in time for a big States event in the beginning of August, which despite many obstacles (including a very important man dying and coming back to life - no joke) has been running without flaw ever since. Check out their schedule and get some practice or racing in this month while you still can! It's a blast & great anaerobic sprint training for 'cross besides (try racing 20" and 24" back-to-back like Mike Trowbridge does)!

Any ways, since that project launched successfully, myself & a very dedicated crew of local 'cross enthusiasts have been slaving away at turning an old, abandoned 9-hole golf course into a workable & permanent cyclocross course. This would be the third such dedicated CX venue in the country and the only one in the PNW, mind you, which has been extra motivating for me. It's also had some frustrating moments. I was never raised to be a turf-tender (I have a newfound appreciation for facility folks at existing parks & venues who keep that grass maintained)! There were plenty of unknowns on how to prep & rejuvenate this land to make it fast, challenging, & fun. There was plenty of forest overgrown with blackberries and tall, lumpy crabgrass. There was plenty of wasted equipment rentals, but enough promise & progress was made to declare this venue useable in the 2013 season. In fact, I got a very interesting invite from some series down in Seattle that you may have heard about...

So let's jump to the weekend of October 5th & 6th. Yes, MFG is coming to town for the #3 event in their series and to pair up with our season opener. Yes, the site was personally inspected by Terry Buchanan and given the thumbs up with a few requests for course modification. So we've been hard at it ever since, and there's still more to do! As a result, we have two Work & Ride days on the schedule, Sundays Sept. 15th and 22nd. This is your chance to pitch in for this amazing community project and make it all come together for our ultra-urban visitors next month! You can ride the course, dig the course, clear the course, mark the course - all the little details that will make it dialed & amazing for not only October 5th/6th weekend, but well into the future. Let me tell you, this venue will be the it spot for custom-built riding opportunities in this town. This is only Phase 2 (the BMX track being Phase 1)!

Then comes the Prologue - a brand new concept in this series, but since we have a permanent course in town, we might as well warm up on it (and give the kids some home court advantage)! Saturday, Sept. 28th is the Bellingham BMX Prologue. Think Wednesday Night Hot Laps but with an actual full-size course, friends from out of town, and a bit more seriousness to your effort. We're also timing it so you can check out the BMX racing action that morning, even jump in & use your one-day free trial membership with USA BMX and see what riding a big course is like! This also gives us a chance to incorporate any feedback or changes that are needed before the big opening weekend!

Then... MFG weekend. Yeah. Opening up the flood gates. Getting ridiculous. Hey, October is when cyclocross season starts for real anyhow, so we might as well start in Bellingham where the cyclists are real! Lots of fun in store, don't miss out! A special thanks goes out to Cisco Rodriguez for making this all a possibility. Now that guy is dedicated to getting people having fun & learning how to ride bikes (especially kids). Big props.

Just in case you thought we might start with a bang, then fizzle... think again. The weekend of Oct. 12/13th is another huge, local festival weekend surrounding the sport of cyclocross, and another huge new partnership for me. Sometime last winter, the Friends of the Deming Library approached me because they wanted to 1) showcase the recreational opportunities in the beautiful valley up the Mt Baker Highway, and 2) start a long-term project that could bring some revenue to help maintain their library and sustain their programs. They specifically wanted to use cycling to do this, and someone told them cyclocross is where it's at (OMG, they were so right).

Furthermore, the Whatcom County Parks wanted an event that would help draw visitors to the gorgeous setting that is Silver Lake Park in Maple Falls during the “Off Season” (meaning not fishing, camping, horseback riding for those summer-only softies). Well folks, this is a match made in heaven. After what feels like a dozen meetings, a bucket-ton of organization & planning, and last-but-not-least the recruitment of Heather Anderson for leading our first running race to make a real sweet double-header, you've got yourself a festival weekend! Camping, food, music, kids events, logging museum tours, water activities... it's gonna be another barn burner! Head on over to the Silver Lake Double Cross event page for all the details. Registration is already open, and you can claim your campsite right on the boundary of the race course, too! There's even a couple cabins for rent...

The series will continue in a somewhat familiar fashion after that (translation: amazing, zany, hard, continuous), but that doesn't mean we've run out of surprises. That's just October! So if it seems we're headed in the right direction here, head on over to BikeReg.com and get yourself a Series Pass! You save money, you commit, and you never have to worry about registering again. Just show up, get on the start list, and go play in the mud.

You know we can't promise the mud, but we can't stop it either...

See you out there,

Monday, July 22, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Hello, cyclocross fans. You may have started to believe I forgot about you. Well, you'd be wrong! I've just been jamming along quietly in the background, and now we're coming out of the gate fast & hard for the 2013-14 season! Lots of interesting elements have been in the works since the day we wrapped up back in January - new venues, new partnerships, upgraded equipment, upgraded facilities! I used to rest during the summer and come out of CX hiding in August. Not anymore! I haven't really rested since Worlds back in February. The cyclocross energy is still cranking!

So you'll see a preliminary schedule announced at right. We've got a few dates to dial down in October, but if you're looking to clear the schedule for the best series in the 4th Corner, you see what you need to do now! Give up all your other hobbies, request some serious slack at work, earn your keep at home now...

It's almost time for mud! I'll be releasing details on some of these exciting new events as they become solidified. Meanwhile, go ride your bike!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

I'm flying to the World Championships in Louisville, KY late tonight with five of my fellow cyclocross racers. I can't think of a more explosive way to send off the most amazing season of cyclocross I've ever been a part of. Myself, I raced sixteen times - a combination of 3 “local” series and one trip to a UCI event + SSCXWC in Los Angeles. Maybe that is not a lot compared to some. I know of at least one other Bellingham local that traveled & raced in several states this year at the Elite level (looking at you Courtenay McFadden), going from Cross Vegas in September all the way to Nationals in Madison, WI the same weekend as Chiller. And now, we all get to turn our eyes to the world's best at a permanent cyclocross course called Eva Barnham Park, battling it out on the mud, grass, twists, & turns of our very own American soil. Look how far cyclocross has come in our country in such a short time! Luckly, I get to witness it first hand.

Participating (as a spectator) at the highest level of the sport will be something to behold and a huge amount of noise, but it won't drown out the success we had right here in our little coastal berg. It will give me some interesting perspective. We hosted seven races this season. We added one new amazing venue. We had several record turnouts and an average attendance of about 15% higher than last year, which was already another record year. We're not the only series to see such numbers, but we certainly may be one of the funnest!

Chiller Cross at Cornwall Park was an absolute blast - as good as a grand finale in a great series should be! There was some concern from the Parks Dept about damage there after the debacle of weather at Civic Fields, and Mother Nature had our back. The entire park was frozen! We had maybe 10 feet of mud where the sun peeked through the trees and melted a bit of the course, but that doesn't mean it wasn't tricky! I laid up an entirely new configuration of the course that many said was the best yet. I have to agree! We had stairs to run, logs to bunny hop, technical singletrack with roots to navigate, fast gravel to scream down, delicate icy grass corners to turn on. Oh, and the flyover was boosting! There was one descent that was surprisingly treacherous, and I'll have my eyes peeled & salt ready for that one next year - my apologies to anyone that went down and lost skin or worse!

Then we went on to celebrate with a ride & party last weekend. The Fun+alley Race was very well-attended, despite the awful weather. That's what 'cross racers do! The feedback from the event was very positive and I heard many requests to do this again (maybe in the spring?). Coins are still being turned in for pitchers at Kulshan Brewery - they're good until Saturday - but not as many as were consumed at the Awards Party that night. DJ Idlehands did another excellent job of spinning the beats. We had very nice custom hoodies made up for us by Liet Unlimited (owned by Becky, one of our reg girls) and awarded to the overall champions. The top Fun+alley teams were awarded prizes as well, with the fastest time to all 8 stations going to Tim Hubner and his BFF crew of Dan Froula and Doug Nathe in 2 hours, 11 minutes. Not quite fast enough to earn 8 races from me next year (too much lolly-gagging & chit-chatting, fellas?) but I think they'll all be gunning for the sub-2 hour mark come next January!

So yes, we'll keep it at seven races for now. I had a handful of new venues to announce - some certain, some likely - to replace those that might need a rest or have seen enough action in the past 7 years we've been doing this. I'm quite excited about the potential at these places, but I'll have to share more later! We also provided a survey for those in attendance to get your ideas for making the series even better, because it really is a shifting, changing concept each year. I will put that survey up for everyone to take part in (and do the whole thing, for those that didn't notice the back side of the page) along with some observations from Worlds next week.

Great job, everyone, for making the scene so positive, so energetic, and keeping me stoked to go after bigger & better opportunities for cyclocross racing in & around Bellingham. You will all be rewarded! Now let's root for the home team and see if we can see some rainbow stripes earned for the good ol' U.S.A. this weekend!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Well, here we are. It's already been a month since that mud bath at Civic Fields and it's time to race bikes again! This time, the turf is looking more frosty than muddy, which is fine. Cornwall Park is a fairly smooth & fast venue anyways, with a few nice trails up on the ridgelines to keep it interesting. Racing around a beautiful park amongst the tall trees and (hopefully) sunshine like today is a fantastic way to spend a Saturday! Get those engines fired up for your spring training calendar!

One thing that came out of the unusually difficult conditions at Thriller Cross is a higher level of expectation from the Bellingham Parks & Recreation Department for doing repair work after the race. They want it done THE SAME DAY. So if any of y'all cross fanatics can spare an hour or two after 2pm tomorrow, bring a metal rake or something heavy to tamp soil with. We will have some tools on hand, also. It's a good upper body workout to round out your musculature!

I've also reworked the course from years past to do two things: avoid impacting areas they were most concerned about AND keep it interesting. I had to scale back on some muddy cornering in grass that is slow to recover, so I found more technical trail and sections like stairs, roots, and rocks that will require running. It should be plenty fun & challenging. Here's a Google Map outlining the course.

It's a good thing the Fun-alley Party is not for another two weeks, since we'll be working a little extra after the race this weekend. I'm pleased to announce the location for that will be at Kulshan Brewery which is partnering up with us for a few exciting cycling projects in 2013 (TBA at the party). Urban/rural CX ride, friends, ales, podiums, prizes, StrEat food... what more could you ask for in a day? See the race page for more details in the coming days.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Hopefully you've had some muddy or even snowy fun over the past three weekends since that amazing day out at Camp Lutherwood on Lake Samish, aka the Thanks Given'er, now known as one of the toughest rad cyclocross courses in the Northwest! If you missed that fateful Saturday in November, mark your calendar for it next year, and include plans to camp out with us, sit around by a big fire after the race, then wake up in the morning to ride some of the best trails out there in the Blanchard & Chuckanut mountains with all the guidance you need to have an epic day of riding at your own pace (sort of) without getting totally lost! The area surrounding Bellingham is known for having been shaped by one of the finest communities of trail builders on the planet, and we aim to show it off! You may have seen a cyclocross double-header (we've got a fantastic one already), but have you ever seen a cyclocross/camp-out/guided-trail-riding double header? I doubt it, but that's what we do here at Cascade Cross - we are pushing the genre in the direction that brings you more challenging, more diverse, and more fun riding for your drive & dollar!

You may have followed up that exceptionally muddy affair with the Seattle series final in Monroe, Singlespeed Worlds down at CXLA, the BC Cup final at S. Surrey, the State Championships in Arlington, or perhaps even the USGP final in Bend. Some of those were more standard or traditional fare, whereas others were... um... more uniquely memorable for the seasoned racer around here. Either way, there's been plenty of action & excitement well into December, especially if you kept the CX engine running as well as you should!

Now all 'crossed eyeballs in the PNW are pointed at Thriller Cross right here in the little berg of Bellingham. I know mine are. I'm working on some fun new arrangements to change up what has become a classic venue over the past five years. We've definitely had some muddy days out there. We've certainly had some zany days, too. Somehow, we've always magically had snowy days? This year will be a mix of all those elements, but the competition will be relatively clean this time around. And when I say clean, I mean no “unusual” skills will give you an advantage. Well, other than dressing yourself before the race, of course. Your costume is not mandatory, but it may just earn you a head start!

If you are lacking inspiration or direction on how to dress, other than the overarching theme of It's a Zombie Christmas, please review the following materials as well as our Thriller Gallery and recall that mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery. Originality is highly regarded, as well. Low viz, heavy, bulky, and/or clumsy attire may receive the best treatment of all.

See you out there,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Well, it's hard to describe the degree of excellence in the regional 'cross scene right now. More record turnouts, hotly contested season finales, epic battles in every category on top notch courses... the only way to really get it is to just show up! If you're not taking advantage of the amazing & inviting CX scene you have around you right now, you must have some really great hobbies! Or always work weekends. If that is the case, pick a weekend and request it off! It can be a sporting vacation right at home.

Take last weekend for example - MFG's final at Woodland Park. It's rapidly become an annual WA favorite for the neat wooded yet urban setting & a very high energy amongst spectators & participants. I made the effort to drag a beginner there who did race (after much coercion due primarily to nerves) and she got 3rd! As well as a 5 yr old child who did not want to race but was enthralled by all the action from juniors to pros. My personal favorite was the 12:15 race - I cheered so hard for all those kids & beginners trying to surpass the challenging barrier & log combo run-up, struggling their way into a new fitness-based activity and getting plenty of support! Then I jumped in the last race of the day and pedaled my heart out for the best result I could muster in a highly competitive field. Very gratifying for everyone involved and an amazing sport accommodating to everyone from curious spectator to pro (yes, Tyler Farrar was there). Then we went to the zoo and a hip Seattle restaurant. Call it a great day!

Let's rewind the tape a bit further (since I haven't had a chance to review the success of Cross Border Clash yet). Riders from Tacoma to Victoria are hearing how radical this course is, some calling it their favorite ever, and there's not much of a limit on how huge we can build out that venue. It's got all the interesting features and enough facilities to keep it comfortable. I camped out Sat. night myself and really enjoyed waking up on the grounds, ready to just grab some coffee from Spartan Espresso and start fixing up the course. No, we don't get the 1000+ turnouts that MFG has attained in a huge metro area, but we certainly did pull off the biggest cyclocross event Bellingham has ever seen! We blew through every attendance record ever made in our 7 year history - 190 racers on Saturday, 120 on Sunday, so 310 for the weekend. To put that in perspective, 120 was our big breakthrough record for the final at Cornwall in Jan 2010. 156 was the record at Woolley. So we're seeing 20% increases in attendance from event to event (and yes, Tyler Farrar was there too). Where will the growth stop? 200 at Chiller? I won't be too surprised, as that course is excellent and people love to race 'cross in January! How about 400 for the weekend at Border Clash next year? YES - bring it!

However, this does introduce all sorts of interesting (and welcome) problems very quickly - how to divide up overgrown fields into new ones, how to create a safe & fair course and minimize potential for big bottlenecks, how to make our registration & category system clear for newcomers, how to get a lot of results done quickly...

We lose sleep at night thinking about these things, but I can only chip away at these one-by-one. Fortunately, I've got a solution up my sleeve already for the last item - a new results system called WebScorer, and we're going to start testing it this very weekend at Lutherwood. It has a bunch of features that could be fantastic for everyone, such as real-time results (as in look them up in your car while you're changing), individual lap times (maybe start a fastest lap competition?), and the opportunity to link yourself to other races using the system, such as the NW Epic Series. You can hop over to the reg page for Thanks Given'er right now and type in your info and (optionally) set up a profile. If it seems workable, we'll look at leaning on this system harder for Thriller Cross and possibly going full tilt with it at the grand finale.

Another little project I've neglected in the past but trying to get together for you: we've got photos & videos coming out at a variety of paces - some early, some late - so I'm going to start posting these under each event's page. You can look for the Pics & Vids link on the Schedule page, or in the list of links at the bottom of each race flyer, or just type "/gallery" after any race flyer. If you know of more photos & vids out there, send them to me!

Next up, of course, is the brand new location out at Lutherwood on Lake Samish. We had a crew of 5 out last weekend transporting the flyover from Grandview and getting a head start on a fast launch track and I did a few practice laps to show off the route. We're very excited to bring this sport into a new privately managed venue and see what develops. With all the lodging, trails, and flexibility we have down there, if the course is well-liked, I expect to do something bigger there next year. After all, November seems to be the peak of the PNW cyclocross season. That's not the way I would tilt it, but that's the way it is. Come on out and get a great workout in, have fun, prep for the Seattle CX final at Monroe, and in my case, the SSCXWC in L.A. in early December!

See you out there,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Okay! I can't say enough good things about what went down at Woolley Cross last weekend! It seems, many times, the weather aligns perfectly for our races, but this day seemed most unique in the annals of weather/cyclocross alignment. We suffered (in an inappropriate way) through several weeks of complete drought in the PNW racing scene, right up until the weekend prior, which was slightly damp at SeattleCX in Silver Lake. Then miraculously, after a Thriller Cross reschedule, we were deluged & inundated with full-on, hardcore fall weather right up to the day before the race.

Then, driving into Sedro Woolley on Saturday morning, what do I see but a wall of black down south. All the homies that drove north to race passed right through it. Did it pass into our zone? No. We did look up & east to see snow-covered hillsides. What did we get to race in? That's right, sunshine! And nice soggy grass, tacky corners, a bit of loose gravel, even really old concrete. No mud bogs per se (amazing the ground could soak up all the moisture - must've been thirsty) but plenty of evidence on the bodies & bikes that we were playing in the sweet soil of Sedro all day! Even the kids had a blast - my favorite race of the day. And thanks to Mary Beth Petersen, they even got new custom ribbons for participation. Never have I seen so many wide smiles!

So what came about from all this? Well, for one, a Cascade Cross Series record turnout. At a venue that typically had lower turnouts in the past (for some unknown reason) - for example, less than 80 racers in 2010 - we set an all time high of 157 racers!! After seven years of doing this, and five years out at the N. State Rec Area, we “finally hit the big time” as Marshall put it.

Oh, what else? We've got some nice professional photographs posted up at SpotShot Events. We've got results as well as Series Overall calculations. As is typical, we also had some Lost & Found. Somehow people leave beautiful jackets & other prized belongings, then never contact me in search of them. Such as... who stuffed a pair of leg warmers in my pocket at the start of the Mens A race? I did not see your face, silly person!

Next up, without hesitation one of the best courses combined with the funnest CX scenes on tap for the season, is the Cross Border Clash. We took it to another level last year, but as the regulars in this series well know, we never stop there! What can we add to this event to raise the level of rad? Well... our new flyover, for starters. More specialized pump track action. Buffed out singletrack. Better aligned sand access. Double-sided pits. More strategically placed beer garden hand-ups. Superior food vendors. RV camping & a bonfire? DO NOT put anything past us!

I was also very pleased to announce at the Woolley Cross start line... the location for our brand new, most-exciting venue to date for the new Thanks Given'er event at... Lutherwood Bible Camp on Lake Samish! This place has EVERYTHING! I'm talking singletrack, grass fields, gravel beach, dirt road climbs. Cabins! Showers! They will cook for us! I can definitely see a double-header happening here in the near future. So check out the event page, block out your Saturday, and plan on seeing a local 'cross race like you've never seen one before. And it's only November!

Yes, folks, if you didn't know, we're the only series in the Northwest with a schedule beyond November. Sure, there are other events to look forward to, such as SSCXWC in L.A. and the USGP final in Bend. Even the USA Cycling Nationals in Madison, WI and the World Championships in Louisville! But if you're looking to race local, keep your motivation and fitness rolling past Nov. 30th, look no further than your favorite small town production, the Cascade Cross Series!

Of course, the two Seattle series have loaded up the pre-Halloween weekend with races, so you can get your costumed racing practice going on well in advance of Thriller Cross - so that'll be the Marymoor Velodrome (again) for MFG on 10/27 and the Sprinker Rec Center for SeattleCX on 10/28. Good luck down there in those massive fields and fast, flat courses!

On Halloween evening proper (Wed 10/31), your local cyclocross practice is moving to the always creepy (but still somewhat lit) Civic Fields! Actually, Geri Fields (lower softball area). So get your sweat on before you dress up to go Trick or Treat! I'll be out haunting the neighborhood with my kiddo, so I'll see you there in advance of Border Clash. It's a much better practice venue in my opinion - more diverse terrain and IN TOWN - but a headlamp may still be helpful for racing through the dark sections.

Wherever you seek out your ghouls & goblins, I hope you all have a safe & zany Halloween. This CCX pumpkin goes out to you from Bryan Smith, who carved it up masterfully, even after crashing out with a bum shoulder at Woolley. Nothing can keep a good 'crosser down!

Spook you later,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Okay! We've got quite a few good things rolling in our direction this week. First, most importantly, is the weather! The PNW cross community just exhaled a collective hallelujah and inhaled a big lungful of cool moist air! No more east coast mud envy! The racing last weekend in Everett was not muddy, per se, but it wasn't dusty either! Even a bit slippery in parts. Such a relief. Now, with the rain persisting and the nature of the soil at Northern State Recreation Area, I know we're going to have some soggy fun this Saturday! You can also look forward to a new run-up devised by course-builder and master of fun, Marshall Will, so get the toe spikes out!

Pre-registration is also open now, so you can take that step if you want to save a few dollars & minutes.

The second bit of great news is our brand spanking new venue for the Thanks Given'er on Nov. 17th! I've walked it, I found tons of great lines & interesting features, and I got the magic words from the land manager, which is "We're glad to have you!" I'm going to hold off a few days on the official announcement though because I haven't signed any papers (been burned on the verbal agreement already this year) and working on a few extras, but I've leaked some Google map links in a few places you can probably dig up and some teaser photos on my FB page. I will try to seal the deal in the next few days so I can release all the details and you can be excited as I am!

Not to drop a shadow on the Cross Border Clash though, which is my personal series favorite addition of the past few years. This is a wicked awesome double-header weekend coming up fast. And I do mean fast. We'll be out there working the grounds over the next few weeks to, once again, RAISE THE BAR and bring you the best venues possible in our little fourth corner. People are quickly finding out about it - sometimes slowly, too. That's alright. Not everybody can be in the know all the time. Take advantage of this sweet spot we've hit with a super-charged small town series. It's all kind of fun!

See you soon,

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Well, before I get to all the goods from Killer Cross last week - photos, final results (which for all intents & purposes are pretty close to final), etc. - I need to fill you in on the “bad” news. I put that in quotes, because really, it's all a matter of perspective. We've got to move Thriller Cross back to where it was in 2011, that is, December 15th (see sched at right). The Parks Dept. told me they booked up the park with other sports. In part, this was a misunderstanding on the booking procedure, part a matter (perhaps) of low priority of our sport amongst the traditional ones. Well, given the growing popularity I'm seeing, that won't last long! But no sweat off our brow because...

Frankly, the weather ain't right for 'cross. It hasn't rained in what, forever? Unfortunately (for 'cross), this trend is supposed to continue into early October. We've got to wait for some more rain to do things right. Furthermore, we've got Woolley Cross right there the week after to keep us happy. Then there was this huge six-week gap in my series between Border Clash in early Nov. and the return of Thriller in mid-December. I sort of left this open for the unannounced dates of other events, mainly SSCXWC in California which I like to attend, but that has now been nailed down for early December in L.A.

So I am adding in a mid-to-late November race to make everything balanced and proper, tentatively calling it the “Thanks Given'er” and working on a sweet new venue for it. Also, I have to say I loved the Zombie Christmas theme we took on last year, with dead santas & rotten elves. I think we should stick with that theme, along with the snow & skinny riding!

Thank you for your patience and support, check back soon for more details. Remember, I will never let you down or die trying!

Yours in slop,

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Great day of racing yesterday at Squalicum Creek Park! Thanks to all the riders, spectators, hecklers, oyster feeders, volunteers, and even supportive parents! We had big record numbers in many fields, including Youth, Women B, and Singlespeed (my fave). I even almost won the Bs, but even the promoter gets flats and has to run. It's burly out there!

I'll write up some more tomorrow, but now I just want to give you your Preliminary Results. I need to add Youth still and incorporate any feedback (like if my data shows you down a lap but it was in fact a recording error). Contact me if you see anything fishy.

Other than that, see you in two weeks at Civic for a Thriller race!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Alright, time to put the pencils down. Time to lift the heads up, pinpoint the training, do some serious racing, do even more ridiculous spectating (those are your parts), rally volunteers, collect gear, and build a huge course for the season opener next week (these are my parts). I'm going to make my last few big announcements for the season right now and just expect to see you at Squalicum Creek Park in a little over a week. I hope you're ready to scream around on your bike, because all the pieces will be there for you to do so!

The “new” SINGLESPEED A category: We're doing one again (by popular demand), but this time with more racers. If your name is Greg Heath, Scott Alexander, John Pitton, Lars Sternberg, Darrin Seeds, Josh Stowell, Mark Oldenburg, Joey Mullan, Doug Graver, Patrick Monteith, John Whitenack, Kari Studley, Craig Etheridge, or anyone of similar caliber or desiring to be of similar caliber, you are racing at 1:00 pm now! See Categories. This does two things: rounds out our A Race with some more fast dudes & dudettes (Kari) and preserves the B race for B-caliber riders. Getting double-lapped is not only confusing for both the back-of-pack B racer AND the scoring folks, it can be frustrating as well. Race up!

PRE-REGISTRATION: I set this up for Series Passes and it adds some convenience for everyone, so I'll carry it forward to individual events, starting of course with pre-reg for Killer Cross. You save $5 using BikeReg, but you pay their fee, so you still end up saving a couple bucks and a couple minutes under the reg. tent.

BOUS, or Barriers Of Unusual Size: Those who raced later in the season last year will recognize that I am acquiring a new signature of incorporating, how shall we say, unorthodox obstacles into your already challenging cyclocross courses. I'll admit it - I was inspired after attending a race in Golden Gate Park last November (see Year of the Bullfrog post below for more). The key with all of these is some skill, but mostly a suspension of disbelief, that is simply a good dose of confident speed! Well, to continue the theme, I've got a little surprise for you at Squalicum Creek Park this year. Yes, we all remember the bark mountain which ended up being rideable (see the YouTube playlist). Do not fret - you will still get to play in that pile of slivers - but I want to force you off your bike. Yes, I've not another stack of wood in mind for you. Otherwise, this is the usual hard, fast, and hilly Squalicum Creek Park! Get some!

Also, remember there is always Facebook and Twitter where I am quite active, especially during the season. I may post photos from the course in the morning, prizes I dig up, but also other cool & worthy events I find, gear suggestions, pro race commentary - all sorts of mentionable and even unmentionable tidbits. So pay attention, class!

Now get out there and do some homework. Like a nice, long sand run at MFG this Sunday. See you there!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Well, here we are in the second week of September, arguably the first taste of fall weather upon us, and whaddya know? 'Cross season has also begun in earnest in Washington! Some folks “blew the carbon out” at the Labor Day CX Championships two weekends back, while others waited for the MFG Series opener at Big Finn Hill Park (ironically, a place lacking in real hills) last Sunday.

I fall into the latter camp, and had a dusty battle in the ever-humongous singlespeed field. “Adequately chaotic” is how I would describe it - with enough mechanicals, bottleneck-causing crashes, rivals flying by, lapped traffic, and friends cheering on the sideline to keep it all gas, all the time. Thankfully, no crashes myself and the fitness appears to be there (under a couple layers of late summer sludge) just waiting to come out of the barrel banging. Now let's tune it up and keep it rolling all the way to December! Seattle Cyclocross starts next week if a drive to Ft. Steilacoom Park in Tacoma suits you. Just promise me you'll use it as a training race for your real target, our own series opener Killer Cross on Sept. 29th!

I'm just grateful it sprinkled slightly on Sunday and cooled off a smidge from the day before, when a small crew of knobby elitists gathered at Lake Padden to demonstrate cyclocross for the 40th Anniversary of Lake Padden Park.

(L->R) Greg Heath, Derek Shiers, Joey Mullan, Ian Baldwin, Aaron Mickels, Jeff Cummings, & Nicola Mann

Small doesn't mean slow, however. Look at this group then look at their results from MFG (or Mt Baker Hill Climb) from the next day. You can see why riding & training in Bellingham with folks like this is nothing to sneeze at. They may be nice & friendly, but their legs are mean!

So onto the news that really matters: what else can we expect to be different with the series this year? Well, as I stated previously, there's been steam building in the pipes to really blow it out in 2012. You want to know how to release all that energy slowly & generate some long-lasting power for your season? Get yourself a SERIES PASS! Do it by Thursday, Sept. 27th, too. You'll get a super-bargain price on all the races (you can even afford to miss one or two) plus a screen-printed T from locally famous Red Boots Design with our new logo plus a little something extra just for pass holders that pre-order them!

But that's not all. We've got something special in store for the little riders as well. And this will still cost you parents nothing but the loving sweat you already pour into getting these tikes into bikes! A thoughtful citizen named Mary Beth Petersen (with a little lady racer herself) stepped forward and offered to run the 11:00 am Youth Race at a whole new level this year, so I've revised the race day schedule to accommodate TWO kids races - one short & one medium distance. She will be keeping better track of the proceedings (including awards for everyone) while I'm busy running around modifying the adult course for them. It should be a good match! We all know where the future of the sport is, so no one can deny the kids plenty of time to play on our playground. Before you know it, they'll be lapping their folks riding in the Junior A field.

The other result of this change will be the B race moving 15 mins. later, so the finish will be closer to the A start. This way, there's less idle time for our mud-hungry spectators. After all, it does get cold out there. Yay! Another rider request knocked off the list.

You think I'm going to stop now? No, I'm not. We still need to welcome more beginners to the sport and help them feel ready to ride on race day. Over the past three years, I have run a women's specific clinic in mid- to late-September to help invite these novice ladies into the sport. That has had some great effect, but this year (on the suggestion of a veteran lady instructor) we're going gender neutral. We are also going to conduct it at Lake Padden alongside the standard practice (previously held at Civic) for convenience and access to some more good role models.

SO Newbies! Mark your calendars for both Wed, Sept. 19th and 26th, 6:00 pm at Lake Padden ballfields. Veterans: invite your reluctant friend, family member or significant other! I'll make an event tied to our new Facebook page as well. We'll have a good student-teacher ratio, cover the basics in depth, and set everyone off right for the big opener at Squalicum Creek Park in just 2 1/2 weeks, and all for my favorite price - FREE!

If that's not enough to get some drool on your top tube, I don't know what else to say. Check your pulse! This season is going to rattle the train right off the rails!

See you out there,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

It got cold out in Bellingham. And it rained a bit. You know what that means! First, I have to retract my statement below, something about “the summer that never happened.” Well, it finally happened! Personally, I lived it up because I knew it would be short lived. Now we can move on and prepare our hearts & minds for another fantastic & exciting season of doing this sport, which thrives on the cold and wet and epic, in full. We know the mud will come. We can count on Mother Nature to come through for us here in the Great Northwet. We know the suffering will come, too. So I, the facilitator of all that is proper suffering, will now throw in a few tidbits to get you prepped:

First, a cool new book, hot off the presses: Head on over to MudSnowAndCX.com to collect some printed background on this great new American trend in cycling. The author, Molly Hurford, is East-coast based, but I have to imagine it includes some of our favorite PNW riders and venues! We're a part of something special here, now available in paperback and eBook versions.

She's also got a great back story on that website about getting roped into cyclocross racing via the collegiate cycling scene. So I'll give a shout out to our local WWU Cycling team who have graciously helped me at races and will very likely be recruiting new members for fall training rides in just a few weeks! They were the Division II conference champions on the road and very often send delegates to race at Cyclocross Nationals as well as MTB. Plenty of good stuff happening up the hill. Contact Club Pres Ryan Wigg if you want to join their ranks. Now is the perfect time!

Second, CX PRACTICE! It starts next Wednesday, Aug 29th at the Padden ballfields, 6pm. This is the usual format you've gotten to know over the years, but just in case you're new to this (we always welcome newcomers to the scene!) - here is a simple flyer with more details. I am NOT the organizer of these intense evening grass gatherings, but the contact information is there if you need it.

What else do I got? OH - one of the fastest (& shortest) young men in the PNW on a CX or road bike is returning from a little racing stint in Europe. He's graced my races before, and his blog promises he will embark on a miniature cyclocross season. Does that mean he will attend the smallest CX series around? We can only hope he'll come raise our bar - with his power if not his stature - if so, I'll be sure to pay him off in Belgian chocolate (if he doesn't smuggle back more than he can eat).

There is, in fact, more I want to tell you, but sometimes the steam just needs to build up in the pipes. So there's your power-boosting snack for the week: Training opportunities. Reading materials. Clubs to join. Inspiring locals. Now, getting fit and getting your equipment ready are totally up to you!

See you on the road & trail,

Friday, August 10, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

TWO BIG developments this past week or so in Cascade Crossland - mainly in preparation for moving massive amounts of gear about town while simultaneously LOOKING AWESOME!

The first item:

Now imagine this new logo large and charge of the side of it (as well as on your new t-shirt, hoodie, hat, and beer koozie):

I'm also considering whether there's room enough for a wet bar in there. You know, for the bullfrogs out there...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Posted by Ryan Rickerts

Welcome to almost-summer. Or the blink-and-you-missed-it-summer. Or the summer-that-never-was. Irregardless, we can always count on a great autumn in Bellingham! And by "great" I mean, of course, lots of cyclocross. So your favorite local cycling series is back with a vengeance to try and convert your hearts & minds from summer-longing and swim-happy to fall-craving and mud-wanting.

One goal I set for myself this whatever-summer is to have the series calendar dialed by the start of the Tour de France. It just seemed like a reliable benchmark, plus the other big series in the region are announcing their dates earlier, too. I think we are finding our rhythm here in the heartland of U.S. 'cross. Plus this time of year, lots of people are excited about cycling, out riding to take advantage of the long, warm (?) days. Still, with our typical grass-is-greener mentality (or maybe it's called training plans?), plenty of riders are also looking forward to the next cycling season already.

Well, I had to look past the fact that I personally am not riding right now (Achilles problem), but instead surfing, climbing, rowing and partaking in other alternate hobbies. Weird, huh? But this isn't about me! I've resolved myself to the fact that my primary purpose for existence on this mudforsaken rock is just to feed your crazed minds with something to look forward to, especially when it's dark & dismal out! Like all the time. Well, I did it - just for you hammerheads - and let's say announcing the calendar while the Tour is still going will be my new tradition (I'm into all kinds of morons, but I like oxymorons best).

You'll notice a 2012-13 series calendar on the home page right sidebar or Races page. You might notice that the number of event dates has ratcheted up from 6 to 8. That's a leapfrog over my stated goal last year of 7 races in the series, so pressure is on me to get that elusive new venue (stay tuned), as well as a fun-alley to loosen us up for a great finale party (instead of hosting it after Chiller like last year) as well as build excitement for the World Championships to be held right here on U.S. soil the following weekend (maybe organize a last-minute carpool?).

What else is different? Well, I'm working on a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff right now, beyond just the event schedule. I will be unveiling these items as the season gets closer to amp you up for a great year. Some of them will just help me be better organized & run a better series, which seems to get more awesome every year. I don't anticipate the momentum to stop now! If anything, it's at full tilt.

I will throw out one more thing - I'm designating the 2012-13 series the “Year of the Bullfrog.” It is the perfect power animal for many reasons:

  1. Last year was NOT muddy enough. We didn't get proper racing conditions until late November. We need to band together and invoke some better weather this year. Well, what frog doesn't love mud? They certainly love rain, and devoting yourself to the bullfrog now will ensure a healthy, wet fall for everyone.
    Bullfrogs burrow into mud or soft soil to hibernate and remain buried until the arrival of spring.
    I encourage all cyclocrossers to burrow into the mud during and until your favorite season arrives. You will also be well practiced in the medium.
  2. The bullfrog is aggressive and “will eat anything smaller than themselves.” I encourage all racers to try & defeat anyone in front or behind them, which from a distance, will in fact appear smaller! You can also, like the bullfrog, use your thumbs, or elbows, or even mouth (see below):
    Interestingly, during battle, many Bullfrogs will try to gouge one another with their “thumbs.”
  3. This goes without saying, but I'm saying it anyways: they're damn good at hopping. If I hear anyone complain about the height or number or variety of barriers in one of my races, I will simply say "Bullfrog Up!" I will also refer you to the giant trees in Golden Gate Park we hurdled many times at SSCXWC last November. Shut it!
  4. Bullfrogs are invasive in a lot of ecosystems. Meaning to say, they adapt well. Drop us on any piece of property with a variety of surfaces, weather conditions, obstacles, competitors, and we will thrive! Like a Boss Frog. Invasive also means to "prey on natives." See, we've got this little B.C. problem...
  5. They appear fat & lazy, but they're still rad and can bust out the moves when prompted. This is obviously many cyclocrossers' power animal already, and it should remain that way. Plus, as I stated before, they'll eat anything. So more beer, waffle & taco truck for everyone! Who cares if you're racing in 15 minutes? They're running out of the Belgian mix!
  6. Lastly, I'm so over cows. Those blokes are slower than snot. I declare croaking to be the new cowbell! If you can't bust out your own maddening bellow to drive your fellow racers into their pain cave (and back out again), I'll try to source some noise-makers that fit the bill.
    This bellowing sound is one of the most famous sounds in all of the Animal Kingdom.

See? Who doesn't want to race (and by that I mean kill), get muddy, appear lazy, leap, and feel famous? We all do, and we will. Many times over.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the turf and dirt.

Elbows out!

Sources: Wikipedia and Bullfrogs.com