Twisting around sharp corners, quick bursts of speed, and challenging obstacles littered across the course. Cyclocross is a thrilling style of cycle racing.

The Event

The La Frost Cross cyclocross race took place on Saturday at the Mount Pleasant Center. The race was held on a 1.2 mile course and included several different obstacles that competitors had to face. The event lasted most of the day with individual races being broken up into men’s and women’s categories and level of experience.

Ben Rollenhagen and Lisa Hadden, were co-directors of the event. They hosted the event with the assistance of volunteers and local community members. Many of the people involved in the event this year also helped last year, at the first ever La Frost Cross.

Ashley Rautanen, a volunteer registrar and local community member, decided to help again this year after having so much fun supporting the event last year. “It’s great to see how much fun they have here,” Rautanen said.

La Frost Cross co-directors Ben Rollenhagen and Lisa Hadden, explain what cyclocross is and describe the planning of the event.

More than Just a Competition

Cyclocross is not a very popular sport and many of the people at La Frost Cross have raced with one another at other races across the states. Less than one hundred racers participated in La Frost Cross, and many of the bikers were familiar with each other.

“There’s a lot of familiar faces. Guys you don’t know their first name but you know their bike,” said Sam Young. Young is a college student from Ann Arbor who traveled to Mount Pleasant to compete in the race.

Throughout the whole event, racers could be heard talking, yelling, and laughing with one another while racing. For many of the racers, the La Frost Cross is not just about competition, but also spending the day with friends.

The Course

The course itself consisted of mostly grass, dirt, and gravel paths. There were several tight turns and a couple of obstacles that competitors either had to carry their bike over or hop over while riding their bike. There was one steep hill that made all but two bikers dismount their bike and carry it up the hill.

Mike Ring, the course developer, set up the course so that it would be fun for people competing in all categories, but still a challenging track.

For Ross Miller, an athlete who competed at La Frost Cross, it was his first time competing on a cyclocross course. Miller explained the difference between this course and a typical road race course. “You can’t get a lot of momentum. You’re getting on and off your bike three or four times. By the time you get any momentum built up, you’re going to lose it,” Miller said.

The Bikes

Cyclocross bicycles are specially designed to be durable enough to handle obstacles on the track but still be light enough to provide speed. Many of the top racers have bikes made from carbon fiber, which is extremely light weight and easy for competitors to lift and carry over sections of the course. Bikes made from aluminum, steel, or titanium are more common for mid-level racers.

Cyclocross bikes are also designed to maneuver sharp turns.

“Cyclocross bikes are very specific. The handles are really, really twitchy, made for making tight corners,” said Young.

End of the Series

La Frost Cross is the last race of the Michigan Bicycle Racing Association cyclocross series. Throughout the event, several short award ceremonies took place and competitors were recognized for placing in this race and past achievements in other races. Cyclocross races will start again in the spring.