29 August 2014
Unlike the stadium lighting at BASP Sierra Point and SCPS Spooky Kross, the Lou Fest Cyclocross Night Race is (mostly) lit by flashing course lights and lamps on bikes. In its tenth year, The Lou Fest is held at Fresno’s Woodward Park and this year runs in the evening of 8 November 2014.
“The Lou Night Fest is a race that I do in honor of my best friend that passed away in 2004 and that was Lou Casiano,” said event organizer JP Sickler of Sick Promotions. “He was the one that started promoting cycling many years ago here in the valley. He got me into promoting and I ended becoming USA Cycling’s Trials manager. I set up all the Nationals through the nineties and up until 2004. We used to build some pretty crazy stuff.
“Louie always liked to have unique events. He liked to have something a little bit different.”
“There are the 12-hour and 24-hour [mountain bike] races where they race out there at night and they have to have lights on their bikes,” continued Sickler. “I wanted the same thing. We decided to go with a cyclocross night race. I line the course with flashing lights barrier lights, about 250 of them. But you have to have lights on you [the racer] and your bike. So, the better lights you have the faster you can go.
“It just turned out so fun when we did this. It’s hard to explain but the aura, the atmosphere we have at that night is so unique. Everybody just turns into ‘Let’s have fun’, the racers go at it but it’s all about fun, and the crowd gets into it completely. It turns into a big party. Everybody has a great time. I hand out the awards when we’re all done so we can all celebrate together. It turns in mayhem at that point too.”
“We started off the first six or 7 years with about fifty or sixty riders. Two years ago we hit 100 riders and this past year we went up to 156. We probably had over 750 people watching. This year I have the OK from the Park to put it in a whole different spot. [From there] you could stand at the start finish line and watch 60% of the race. I’m excited about the site change.
“About half of the spectators last year don’t race bikes. This year we’re going to be plugged in a lot more to get even more spectators out there. We’re going to be doing a lot of PR on [social media]. I am getting on TV locally with three morning shows. That way we’ll have a lot of people out there watching, getting some experience, and seeing what cycling’s all about. The Lou has turned into an incredible event.”
This year sees the inaugural California State Cyclocross Series that includes The Lou Fest on its schedule. “It’s all the events that are the most fun,” remarked Sickler. “Dorothy Wong is putting together a whole California series that is more about the events than the sanctioning. She’s been wanting to do something like this and now seems the right time.”
The Lou Fest has a $2,000 purse with equal prize monies for both genders. Talley Timing will provide chip timing as keeping track of racers is hard enough even during daylight.
More information on The Lou Fest is available at the event’s web site.
Details for The California State Cyclocross Series appears at their web site.