Blew out the family travel budget on your new road machine? Don’t worry, there are plenty of smaller, local cyclocross races with awesome atmospheres. Cyclocross is the fastest-growing segment of bicycle racing for a good reason: whether or not you compete (races are usually between 30 and 45 minutes long for amateurs), or just cheer on your friends, the traditional short course makes for ideal viewing. And, because these are local events, you’re likely to know many of the racers and spectators.
Every venue has its own rules, but many allow you to bring your own booze. Toss in a portable grill and think of it as a tailgate, only with hipsters instead of juiced-up frat boys. There are now ‘cross races in nearly every state, but these three are among our favorites.
The Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mixes ‘cross with urban-assault style racing in, you guessed it, a junkyard. Hang out for the free party post-race.
The River City Bicycles Cross Crusade, in Portland, Oregon, is one of the largest regional ‘cross series in the nation and features ten races between September and December, including the Dechutes Brewery Cup, which attracts some of the country's best riders.
The Gran Prix of Gloucester, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is part of the legendary Verge New England Cyclocross Championship Series. The race is each October at Stage Fort Park, a beautiful venue overlooking Gloucester's Harbor. Racing, from the amateurs ranks all the way up through the pros, is competitive. Drinking is sanctioned in the course-side beer tent.