Monday, January 5, 2015

STXC At Park Site O

Running clockwise, this course would finish with a dramatic dash out of the woods.

The cyclocross national championships will be held in Austin TX this week. In Wisconsin the season ended on December 6. I wish it could be cyclocross season all the time, but without the extreme cold. So, it should not be a surprise that I am intrigued by the very similar discipline of short track cross country (STXC) mountain bike racing.

USA Cycling describes STXC as “a shortened cross-country style race, designed to be spectator-friendly and easily televised. The course is 100 percent rideable regardless of terrain and weather conditions. It is a multiple lap race with lap times not less than 2 minutes for the fastest riders. Race duration is 25-30 minutes at the Pro/Elite level. Spectator viewing and access are key.”

Unfortunately, the annual WORS Cup provides the only sanctioned STXC race in Wisconsin. Participation is robust and I think the market for STXC is underserved. A second STXC race—maybe even a series of races—might be popular.

I thought about this before, but my idea for STXC at New Fane was not a big hit. As a DNR property, New Fane comes with a lot of red tape. Getting permission to set up the area for STXC could be more trouble than it is worth.

What about Park Site O in West Bend? You know I think it would be a great bike park. If we create a permanent cyclocross course there, most of it would be suitable for STXC. Barriers would not be a permissible feature of a short track course, but the remainder of the cyclocross course would be in play. And Park Site O certainly meets the spectator-friendly requirement: the STXC course would be more accessible than the WORS Cup course. It would be an excellent racing venue in its own right, but also an excellent training ground for the WORS Cup. The topography at Park Site O is very similar to that of the lower slopes of the Cascade Mountain ski hill in Portage.

The market for STXC is never going to be as large as the market for traditional cross country mountain biking, but that’s OK. While thinking about all of the possible ways to use Park Site O as a bike park, STXC is one more option.

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