LAKE ASBURY - A gorgeous sunny, cool Sunday greeted the best cyclocross cyclists in Florida with the first-ever Florida State Cyclocross Championships being staged at Ronnie Van Zant Park in Lake …
LAKE ASBURY - A gorgeous sunny, cool Sunday greeted the best cyclocross cyclists in Florida with the first-ever Florida State Cyclocross Championships being staged at Ronnie Van Zant Park in Lake Asbury and the action was just as energetic.
“We wanted to build on the momentum of the Great American Road Race that was staged here in Clay County in October and this is going to be the first of many championship events in Clay County,” said Velobrew Cycling Teams’ Jackie Morrison, who orchestrated the multiple race event with the aid of Airstream Ventures’ Joel Lamp. “I would say about three quarters of the racers here today were from out of county which is exciting for the sport. The interest in this particular kind of cross country bike racing is exploding.”
With a handful of race lengths that featured two sand mounds, a mud pit, lots of twists and turns, a fly-over manmade bridge, a sand pit and a few wooden obstacles that forced weary legs to hop off bikes, hurdle and run, the racing for the day was dramatic and exciting for fans of shoulder-to-shoulder action.
“I traveled up from Vero Beach to compete in this race, my first one like this,” said Dan Clemente, 38. “I do a lot of road bike racing, but this is challenging because of the up and downs, the soft turf and the quick turns. “With the COVID, our racing has been limited so to travel up here and have this kind of race is pretty nice. They did a great job.”
One local guy who competed, long time master running guru and a cyclist as of late, John Steinberg, of Fleming Island, 61, rode his bike to Van Zant park to watch, but got caught up in the excitement brewing and signed up for the master’s race.
“Crazy, I rode about 12 miles to get here to watch and saw the course and just signed up,” said Steinberg. “I think I finished fifth of six in my age, but the contrast in this kind of race was pretty unique. I’m a pretty good cardio athlete, but this involves a lot of transitions and technical work. It was very taxing.”
With age groups from 11-masters, Morrison likened the race day to a festival with most of the athletes well known in cycling circles.
“This is the type of event that give some cyclist who maybe are not as fast on the road a bit of an advantage with the technical parts,” said Morrison, herself a cycling competitor. “We were able to see a lot of good racing in all the races. The course layout made it good for spectators and the frisbee golfer people were very curious.”
For Lamp, who with the Clay County Commissioners input, the next step is to expand the racing into cross country running.
“There is definite sports interest in Clay County and the commissioners are very aware of the economic input of having people travel here for a weekend to compete,” said Lamp. “There are lots of venues that have opened their arms to us with ideas and we hope to create this area as an athlete destination.”