After 45 minutes of navigating through the muddy hills and puddles at Woodward Park, Wayne Rosenthal switched out of his drenched jersey and into a dry one, ready to do it all over again.
“It’s a chance to race in the mud. Doesn’t happen often in the Central Valley,” said Rosenthal, 57, of Bakersfield, breaking out a smile that contrasted the dry mud dotting his glasses and face.
He and riders of all ages, sizes and skill levels gathered Sunday for the Homegrown Cyclocross series opener.
A mix between road racing and mountain bike racing, cyclocross races feature different terrain and include barriers like low trees, stairs and planks. Riders dismount and carry their bike over the obstacles, with the more skilled riders able to bunny-hop over.
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Matched with the early-morning showers, it made for perfect racing conditions as riders kicked up dirt and slid through the mud.
“When it comes to cyclocross, that’s what everyone prays for,” said Jeanae DuBois, president of Central California Off-Road Cyclists, or CCORC, the nonprofit organization that runs the series.
“They don’t care how cold it is. They just want to get out here and get all muddy.”
Cheryl Claes, 35, of Clovis was covered in it and also had a line of blood streaming down her left thigh from a cut suffered early in the morning’s first race.
“It’s just fun. (It’s) grown adults playing in the dirt,” Claes said.
Sunday’s event was the first of three in the series with the others scheduled for Nov. 13 and Dec. 4.
It’s a family event, with 13 total races offered for men, women and children. The first race costs $20 for men and women, and $15 for juniors. Each race thereafter is $10, with many riders, Rosenthal included, taking advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s just an extra 10 bucks. Now I got course knowledge and I’m warmed up,” he said before returning to the starting line.
However, that course knowledge is only for the day. CCORC designs a new one for every series event, utilizing the park space west of Yosemite Road that stretches from Audubon Road to the BMX courses.
While the course favors a cyclocross bike, one specialized for on- and off-road racing, it’s not required. All bikes are legal at the races.
“If you have a mountain bike, you can come out to Homegrown. It’s all about fun,” DuBois said.
Homegrown Cyclocross series
- Where: Woodward Park
- When: Nov. 13 and Dec. 4
- The skinny: Put on by CCORC, there are 13 races for men, women and children of all skill levels. Each lap will incorporate grass, mud and gravel terrain, as well as barrier sections. Cyclists can register up to 30 minutes before each race. The cost is $20 for men and women and $15 for juniors. First race at 10 a.m.
- Details: www.racemine.com/ccorc/.