By Lyndsie Kiebert
Cyclocross is not a sport for the faint of heart.
“Imagine a road bike with knobby tires — and then combine that with a steeplechase,” said Charles Mortensen, owner of Syringa Cyclery and sponsor of Sandpoint Crosstoberfest, which takes place Sept. 29 and 30 on the North Boyer course.
The local course only contributes to the strenuous — some may call insane? — nature of the sport, Mortensen said.
“One portion is so steep, muddy and gnarly that you have to put your bike on your shoulder and run up it,” he said.
Riders must also contend with obstacles to carry bikes over and a sand pit nearly impossible to ride all the way through.
But if this is your idea of fun, the upcoming cyclocross race and beerfest is right for you. The race will take place over both Saturday and Sunday, with a short-course kid race and autism walk on Saturday. Mandala Pizza and Jupiter Jane will serve food, and the 219 Lounge is providing the beer and Eichardt’s is serving it, Mortensen said.
“The cycling itself is fun. It’s competitive, and it’s kind of crazy,” he said.
But there’s also a place at Crosstoberfest for those unwilling to trudge through mud with a bike on their shoulder. Mortensen said cyclocross is just as much for spectators as it is for bikers.
“There’s a lot of heckling going on,” he said. “Spectators hand beers to racers. It’s mayhem.”
Mortensen said the Sandpoint race is the first in a series dubbed the Wild West Cyclocross Series, for which he is the “unofficial commissioner.” The series also has races scheduled in Whitefish, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula over the coming weeks.
Proceeds from the Sandpoint race will benefit Team Autism 24/7, a local non-profit dedicated to serving the autism community through training, programs and grants. Learn more about their mission at teamautism247.com.
Seven years in, Mortensen said he continues to organize cyclocross races for one simple reason: “It’s just a blast.”
Register for Crosstoberfest 2018 at wildwestcxseries.com. Cost is $30. Racers ages 9-18 race for free, but must still register. Registration is also available at 8 a.m. on race day for an additional $10. Racing starts at 9 a.m. both days.
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