30 August 2014
The Central California Off-Road Cyclists, CCORC, otherwise affectionally pronounced as ‘cork’, put on Fresno’s Homegrown Cyclocross Series. This season will see three events at the Woodward Park venue: 9 November, 7 December, and 14 December, 2014. The locale is at the southern edge of the bicycle-racing district, or perhaps the northern edge of that district to the south. More than one person has described Fresno as an unwanted baby for both districts.
The small cyclocross series has its challenges yet does have a terrific place to race in Woodward Park. The layout has varying terrain, including grass, elevation changes, and a different course each race-day. It wants for an audience and wandering cyclocrossers would not meet with disappointment should they find themselves in Central California looking for a ‘cross race.
“The challenges are calendar, for one,” remarked Jeanae DuBois from the Homegrown Cyclocross Series. “We hold all our races on Sundays and that can be tricky from just regular weekend activities. We really cater to families with kid’s, junior’s, women’s, and men’s races. But we’re really trying to get more women and the youth involved. So the calendar can be a little bit tricky for us just exposing people to off-road cycling.
“We have large community of road cyclists in the valley but off-road is still coming of its own in the valley. Getting people to be brave enough to try it, and having the right equipment, continues to be a little bit of a challenge for us.”
“I would say most of our cyclocross athletes are roadies,” described DuBois. “They race road during spring and summer and then use cyclocross because they don’t want to get out of shape but they’re not ready to start training for the road season. They’re looking for something fun to do. We also have a Team Cup each year where there are series points teams can earn. That brings out the road teams as well.
“The comments we receive are our courses are a little bit more technical. We have a lot of varied terrain to work with out at Woodward Park. CCORC has garnered a really good relationship with the Park whereby we took an area of the park that was unused and unmanaged by the City. We have turned it into a recreation area and they allow us to do a lot more things in that area than might be the case otherwise. We are able to design our courses to have very varied terrain and provide people with challenges they wouldn’t see in other areas. We have gravel pits, we’re able to create water areas, and they allows us to put in barriers.
“One of the most common comments we hear is the courses are, if not more challenging, they are on par with other Norther California events.”
“This is my third year with the Homegrown Series,” continued DuBois. “I’ve tried to help the club really increase awareness of the event both from a local media perspective and also the local community. As I’ve become involved there is beginning to be a better awareness about the event. Using social media has been a huge tool for us to invite either new cyclists or families. We have people come out who don’t even ride or race bikes. The reception has been very good for cyclocross and really any cycling.”
“Our focus is really to attract children, women, and men to the sport of off-road riding. It’s really a fund-raiser for our organization. We’re mountain bikers so we’re really focused on getting trail access, trail advocacy, and maintaining trails. That’s what we use the money for. This is not a huge money-raiser for us but it’s our only organized fund-raiser for the year. The core and goal of Homegrown Cyclocross for CCORC is to introduce amateurs to the sport and help raise awareness and funds for off-road cycling while maintaining trail access.
“If people decide that off-road cycling is not for them then at least we got them on a bicycle.”
There is a refreshing aspect to Homegrown in its bent to bring in more and new cyclocross racers. The whole approach differs from some others that seem to want to carve away a portion of the pie yet only hope that the size of the pastry dish expands.
“There’s really something for everyone out there,” said DuBois in closing. “Our goal is to get entire families to come out, try it out, experience it, and have a good time.”