Cyclocross racers take on Woodland Park course
by Rachael Griffin
Nov 17, 2012 | 4902 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Birmingham duo Zach Davis, 21, and Pete Foret, 45 had a unique approach to the 2012 cyclocross event at Woodland Park: on a tandem bike. (Photo by Terry Lamb/The Anniston Star).
Birmingham duo Zach Davis, 21, and Pete Foret, 45 had a unique approach to the 2012 cyclocross event at Woodland Park: on a tandem bike. (Photo by Terry Lamb/The Anniston Star).
The sounds of Joan Jett singing about how much she loves rock 'n roll and the clanging of cowbells filled the Woodland Park Softball Complex parking lot on Saturday evening. Throughout the complex, adults and children rode bicycles and helped each other pin numbers to their racing shirts. For the third year in a row, cyclocross enthusiasts have traveled to the Anniston area to compete on a tough course under the lights.

Cyclocross is a sport that features long-distance riding through courses containing grassy hills, sand, mud and other challenging obstacles. The races are set up so the competitors must ride multiple laps over the same course. This way, they don’t have to make it over a steep hill just once, but instead potentially four or five times.

“You’re almost always negotiating a turn,” said Patrick Wigley, the owner of Wig’s Wheels in Anniston and the man who has been planning the so-called “Bamacross Double Down” racing event for nearly a year. “Typically, people use the straight shot as a recovery area.”

The event brought 150 registered racers to the area to tackle a grueling bike course that included hills, winding paths and a sand pit.

“This is the first time we’ve made an attempt at a two-day race,” Wigley said.

Saturday’s race was the first of the weekend-long event, and the second race is set to begin at 10 a.m. today --- representing the seventh and eighth races of the 11-race, statewide “Bamacross” cyclocross experience.

As a sport, cyclocross is gaining popularity among mountain-bike and road-bike racers alike, enthusiasts said.

“Once I did one race it was all over. It’s a great sport,” said Brett Harper, a 50-year-old Georgia resident who travelled to Anniston for the two-day racing event.

Harper said his brother got him involved in the sport seven years ago, and he hasn’t looked back.

Harper trains for cyclocross by mountain biking, road biking and spinning in the off season.

The hardest part of cyclocross is “the high intensity … you’ve got to have a burst of energy, Harper said.

The construction of the Anniston course started on Monday, with Wigley working on it for six hours every day. In addition to a high-grass path and the sand pit, the course included a steep hill estimated at 100 feet. The Anniston bike-shop owner said he’s glad to see it all come together and watch the 150 registered racers tackle what he built.

The sand pit was the part of the course that many spectators and racers expressed most interest in. It was one of the main reasons Harper came to this race, he said. Normally he competes in the Georgia cyclocross series. But Harper said Saturday that he decided to experience the sand, and ride in the Anniston race for fun.

Some of the most entertaining racers of the night included Zach Davis, 21, and Pete Foret, 45. The Birmingham duo decided to try their luck with a tandem bike, while wearing helmets adorned with horns and fur. Their first attempt riding through the sand ended with both riders down and Foret with a scraped knee. However, even with a broken bike, the pair said they couldn’t be enjoying themselves more.

“This is what cross is all about, just having a great time,” Davis said.

Star Staff writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star
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