The Wisconsin Cycling Association’s cyclocross calendar is always a work in progress. I have no problem with that; I know it’s hard to get commitments from host clubs and communities. But since the announcement of the 2022 calendar on May 24 we have seen significant changes and don’t be surprised if there are more to come.
The first published schedule placed the season opener in Sheboygan Falls on September 3. That race not only moved to October 16, but also moved to Evergreen Park in the City of Sheboygan. And that made the Milwaukee Bicycle Co. CX Classic on September 10 the new season opener … until it got cancelled. So, now we’re looking at a season opener on September 11 in the Town of Waterford.
If I am not mistaken, the cancellation of the Milwaukee Bicycle Co. CX Classic means 2022 will be the first full season in WCA history without a race at a Milwaukee County Parks property. And while I have no insider information about the negotiations between race promoters and Milwaukee County, it seems like that relationship got much harder to manage after the 2015 Halloween race turned Washington Park into a muddy mess. To avoid an encore, Milwaukee County cancelled the 2016 Washington Park race as soon as rain appeared in the forecast, and other Milwaukee County dates have been disappearing ever since. Hampshire Cycle Club moved its long-running race from Estabrook Park, a Milwaukee County Park property, to Wern Valley Sportsmen’s Club, a private facility in Waukesha County. The only race in Milwaukee County this season will be Hill Bill at The Rock in Franklin, which is privately managed.
So, none of our races are actually in our two largest cities, Milwaukee and Madison. You have to wonder about the long-term effect of almost never racing in front of a crowd, almost never engaging the community beyond the existing pool of racers.
If we omit the non-series Trek Cup, then 5 of our 14 dates are on courses that are privately owned and/or managed:
- The Rock Sports Complex, Franklin
- Englewood Farm, Fall River
- Angell Park Speedway, Sun Prairie
- Wern Valley Sportsmen’s Club, Waukesha
- Trek Headquarters, Waterloo
You wouldn’t expect races at those locations to attract attention from anyone other than the participants themselves. And the situation is only marginally better at these 7 facilities, which are best described as destination parks, not neighborhood parks:
- Waterford Town Park
- Silver Creek Park
- Badger Prairie County Park (Dane County)
- Fox Crossing
- Richfield Nature Park
- Evergreen Park, Sheboygan
- CamRock County Park (Dane County)
That leaves only Waterloo Firemen’s Park and Grafton’s Lime Kiln Park as true neighborhood parks where an unsuspecting public might bump into a cyclocross race and say, “Hey, that looks like something I’d like to try!”
Racers probably don’t care whether they race on public or private property. They’re happy enough just to race. And in some instances, holding a race in an out-of-the-way location is the only way to hold the race at all. But I worry a little about exposure for and access to the sport. How would someone who doesn’t already know about cyclocross find cyclocross? Word-of-mouth promotion still counts for something, but how do people find it on their own?