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More Cowbell:
Cyclocross at The SR Cup

Most normal folks wouldn’t dare ride their bikes during the wet weather that passes for winter in Santa Rosa.

Luckily for us, most Santa Rosa cyclists wouldn’t dare be described as normal folks. Hardcore riders who relish a roll in the mud and love riding in the rain have a niche cycling sport to call their own.

Welcome to cyclocross season.

Cyclocross – also known as ‘cross or CX – has European roots that can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century, but its popularity in the US began in the 1970s and hit its stride in the 1990s. The race format consists of a number of laps on a short course, usually consisting of quick climbs, descents, and hairpin turns on dirt, mud, sand, and over natural obstacles or man-made barriers.

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While the racing may be fast-paced, intense and brutal, the culture surrounding cyclocross races tends to be good-natured and fun. There is a distinctly laid-back, mountain bike party vibe: beer is consumed, riders are heckled, hand-ups* are encouraged, and spectators generally have a great time watching the action. It’s perhaps the perfect spectator sport, since heckling and partying are as intrinsic to the race as racing itself.

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Although the West Coast capitals of ‘cross are in Santa Cruz and Portland, Santa Rosa has been stepping up its game since 2008 with the SR Cup. Produced by the pro crew at Bike Monkey, this three-day race series attracts riders from all over the Bay Area and further afield to sample the unique flavor of our local cycling culture.This year’s event will follow the same format as last year, although Bike Monkey’s Carlos Perez hints at a few exciting changes to spice it up for returning racers and spectators alike. The first race, held after sundown at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, features a barrier constructed of Lagunitas kegs, a huge overpass, fog machines, lasers, and blaring techno. It may be the most psychedelic bike race ever produced.

Whether you’re a hardened, mud-loving racer, a total CX virgin, or a sideline spectator, all three days of the SR Cup are guaranteed to be a good time, rain or shine. It all goes down November 11-13 at Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Spring Lake Park. Check out the Bike Monkey SR Cup website for details.

Thanks to Dylan Buffington/MASH for the b&w photos.

*Click here for a great glossary of ‘cross terms.


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Nicholas Haig-Arack is a professional writer and artist whose roots in Santa Rosa’s DIY culture run deep. He is one of the founding members of SCUMB, a roving band of BBQ-loving mountain bikers and outsiders. His work can be found on his tumblr or on his super rad ‘gram. Don’t let his clean-cut bio photo fool you, this guy loves getting dirty.


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