The local cycling community has flirted with a popular European-style racing event before, but it got no traction.
But as we enter this first full weekend of the new year, Low Country Racing is testing the dirt again on cyclocross racing. What is it? Think mud run for cyclists, complete with obstacles that require dismounting. Races usually feature laps.
The style of racing, which typically uses road bike-style frames but with more nubby tires, is popular in Europe, particularly Belgium and The Netherlands, and in cycling hubs in the U.S, such as Portland, Ore.
Low Country Racing’s Nick D’Allesandro, who owns and manages D’Allesandro’s Pizza, is a fan of cyclocross and is collaborating with Trophy Lakes on two events in January.
The first is the inaugural Trophy Lakes Cyclocross Race at 9 a.m. Saturday, which costs a mere $5 donation (provided to Trophy Lakes).
It is basically a prelude to a bigger event, the Trophy Lakes CX Race and Kermesse on Jan. 28 at the same location on Johns Island. (CX is the abbreviation for cyclocross). The fee for that is a mere $10.
D’Allesandro said the initial attempts at bringing cyclocross to Charleston – in 2011 and 2012 – fizzled because finding affordable, cooperative venues were difficult.
When Trophy Lakes approached local cyclists about bringing some events to the Johns Island site, originally known as a water skiing venue, D’Allesandro said he wanted to put cyclocross back out there.
D’Allesandro modeled the events after a Portland-area event, Kruger’s Kermesse, which helps raise money for Kruger’s Farm. A “Kermesse” is a Belgian-style summer bike race usual scheduled during a celebration featuring “feasting, dancing and sports of all kind.”
Similar to Kruger’s, the local event will raise money for Trophy Lakes, which has been working to diversify its recreational opportunities at the site.
“I know people who have lived in the Lowcountry all their life who have never been to Trophy Lakes. Lots of people don’t know what’s back there,” said D’Allesandro.
Ultimately, both events this month is an effort to build momentum for a cyclocross series next fall and winter, possibly four in the months of October, November, December and January.
Because many people aren’t equipped for cyclocross, D’Allesandro says those interested can use a mountain bike for the races. His goal for Saturday’s race is modest. He’s hoping for about 20 people and a few spectators.
“It should be a fun time to just come out and have a bike party,” he added.
Facebook pages have been created for both events, but registration information for Saturday's race is listed below.