What are ArcticCross Cyclcocross Races?
Cyclocross races are held on 1-2 mile loops where participants complete as many laps around the course as they can in a set amount of time. Courses consist of a mix of grass, pavement, and dirt trail, and riders must navigate obstacles like fixed barriers, sand, mud, logs, roots, and run-ups up small steep slopes. Racers will have to dismount and re-mount their bike a few times each lap to get over some of these obstacles. Courses are designed to be both challenging, and fun! There are seven races total, and the season starts the weekend after Labor Day, and ends in mid-October. Races are held on weekends, event times and locations are posted on flyers and our Facebook page.
Cyclocross racing is family friendly, and attracts a wide range of participants, young and old, serious and not so serious. Since the courses are relatively short, they are spectator friendly, and participants often come for their own race, and stay to cheer on the other races. We have mountain bikers, road bikers, snow bikers, commuters, cyclists who consider themselves competitive and cyclists who consider themselves non-competitive, all participating.
How do the races work?
There are a number or different scored divisions, described below, and several different waves of races through the day, also described below. All races start with a mass start. Most adults participants will race for 40 minutes, plus 1 lap. What that means, is that participants will complete as many laps as they can, and when the lead group passes the finish line around the 40-minute mark (give or take a few minutes), the timing tent folks begin ringing a bell, letting everyone know that they have 1 more lap to go to the finish. Participants are scored by the number of laps they complete, and their finishing time. Typically, some racers will be lapped by the leaders of a race. We do not pull lapped racers from an event.
Do I need a special kind of bike?
Nope! You can use any type of bike you want. Participants use fat bikes, full suspension mountain bikes, hard tails, and rigid hybrids. We even have a division for unicycles! Our only recommendation is that the bike has tires wide enough to handle riding off road, and a knobby tread for traction.
How long are the races?
For most the adult races who do “40 minutes + 1 lap,” riders will be on course for 45-55 minutes, and will ride anywhere from 8 to 12 miles, though this varies a bit based on the course and the rider. The Junior race lasts about 20 minutes and Junior racers 1-2 laps based on their skill. Our youngest riders participate in the Kiddo race and do 1 lap around a short ¼ to ½ mile loop.
We hold 5 race waves during an event. Within each wave there are several different divisions. In other words, your division will include participants in different categories. We try to group divisions into these waves so that all participants are at a similar level. This is more of an art than a science! Start times and wave order may change from one season to the next, so always check race flyers for the latest info.
Wave 1: 40 Minutes +1 Lap – Novice/Intermediate Men, Junior Elite Boys, Master Men 55+, Adult Unicycles
Wave 2 (Women’s Race): 40 Minutes +1 Lap – (All Women’s Categories) Novice/Intermediate, Open, Junior Elite, Master 40+, Master 55+, Single Speed
Wave 3 (Junior Race): 20 Minutes – Junior Boys, Junior Girls, and Junior Unicycles
Wave 4 (Kiddo Race): 1 Lap, Short Course – Strider Boys, Strider Girls, Pedal Boys, Pedal Girls
Wave 5: 50 Minutes + 1 Lap – Open Men, Master 40+ Men, Single Speed Men
What category should I do?
It is up to each participant to determine what category makes sense for them.
Novice/Intermediate: This category was once called Beginner, but we renamed it to reflect that it is truly a mix of first time racers, beginners, and intermediate participants. This really is the fun category, and is for those that want to give cyclocross a try. It also includes our racers who aren’t ready to participate in Open, or simply aren’t interested in that level of competitiveness. It’s a great category to learn the ropes. Novice/Intermediate racers race for 40 minutes + 1 lap. Any racer 18+ may compete in this category.
Open: This is the elite category. Participants in this category are typically fit and competitive. Prior experience in cyclocross racing is not required to do Open; we often have first time cyclcross racers who are experienced and strong road, mountain, or winter bike racers. There is no age limit for this category, and under 18 racers may compete in the Open category. Open men compete for 50 minutes + 1 lap, Open women compete for 40 minutes + 1 lap.
Master 40 and Master 55+: As the title suggests, these two categories are for our wiser and more distinguished participants. A racer who is 40 or older is not required to race in a masters division, they may also race in Open or Novice/Intermediate if they chose. Master Men 40+ race for 50 minutes + 1 lap, Master Men 55+ and all Masters women race for 40 minutes +1 lap.
Single Speed: Also, as the title suggests, this category is for those that missed the memo about the invention of the derailleur J! This division is open to any age or skill level rider. Single Speed men race for 50 minutes + 1 lap, Single Speed women race for 40 minutes +1 lap
Junior Elite: The Junior Elite division is for young competitive racers under 18 who are ready to compete in full length races, but are not ready to race Open. There is no minimum age for this category, but typically they are 13+. Junior Elite racers must be able to ride the full course for 40 minutes + 1 lap.
The Kiddo Race has 4 divisions, boys and girls Striders, and boys and girls Pedal Bikes. Participants ride 1 lap around a shortened course, often ¼ to ½ mile in length, that will usually feature at least one set of barriers, but is otherwise fairly flat, grassy, and avoids big steep hills or long stretches of challenging terrain. Typically the race takes 5-10 minutes. The focus in this even is on fun, and it is as entertaining for the adults as for the kiddos, who may find their bikes are about the same height as the barriers. Parents are welcome, and in some cases encouraged, to stay with their children on the course. All finishers are rewarded with a treat and a high five when they cross the finish line.
The boys and girls Junior divisions were created to provide a bridge between the full-length races and the Kiddo races for our growing number of youth racers. Junior racers ride the full course, but the race is 20 minutes in length. Typically Junior racers are between 7-13 years old, and are comfortable riding their bikes off road, over surfaces like roots and gravel. Unlike the Kiddo race, parents are welcome to cheer heartily, but are not allowed to assist on course. The event is designed to give these participants a bigger challenge then the Kiddo race, and for the racers to develop strength, skill, and self-confidence. Junior racers complete one or two laps, depending on their skill. A cut-off time of 15 minutes for the first lap is in place, as we want Junior racers to enjoy the event, not feel over-pressured or frustrated by it. Many of our Junior racer start out able to do 1 lap before the cut off, and within a few seasons, are completing 2 or 3 laps in 20 minutes and are ready to move up to Junior Elite.
What’s the cost?
$20 for adults; kids (under 18) are free! A season pass is available for $100, saving the racer $40 if they participate in all 7 races.
How do I sign up?
Registration for races is day-of, onsite. Payments may be made cash or check only! All ArcticCross participants must also join the Arctic Bicycle Club (ABC), https://arcticbikeclub.org/abcmember/sign-up-plans/ , by purchasing a $20 annual membership. Family plans are also available. If you purchased a membership to participate in other ABC events such as mountain bike or road bike races, you do not need to buy a separate membership. ABC provides insurance coverage for our events.
When you register for an ArcticCross race you will be provided with a race number that is yours to keep for the remainder of the season. Don’t lose it!
Can I Volunteer?
Absolutely! ArcticCross Races would not be possible if it weren’t for the help of our participants. We almost always need help after races pulling down the course and doing clean up, and often need an extra hand during the Kiddo races. If you would like to help out, even for just part of the day, check in with timing tent crew.