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VOL. 126 | NO. 221 | Friday, November 11, 2011

Cyclocross Gains Speed in 25th Year

By Bill Dries

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In 25 years, the annual Outdoors Inc. Cyclocross Championship has had three homes – Shelby Farms Park, Sea Isle Park in East Memphis and its current home in Greenbelt Park on Mud Island.

The 25th annual cyclocross is Sunday, Nov. 13, with registration at 8 a.m. and the three different types of races starting between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The founder of what is now the nation’s longest running cyclocross event said the event draws several generations of competitors as well as some of the best riders in the nation.

And Joe Royer never tires of watching those who are getting their first look at the Mississippi River, which runs by the park and the course.

“Professional riders from Boston or California – their jaw drops when they see that river,” said Royer, cofounder and co-owner of Outdoors Inc. “Before the race I tell them, ‘You are looking at the snow melt of Yellowstone National Park. You’re looking at the sleet of the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh. You’re looking at the rain of Chattanooga coming through Memphis. I’ve always felt like the river was our Himalayan Mount Everest feature in the city.”

Last year, VeloNews, a magazine that covers competitive cycling, referred to the Memphis event as “the oldest cyclocross race you’ve never heard of.”

Most editions of the race have also doubled as the Tennessee state cyclocross championship.

Once the race is complete, Royer immediately begins posting the results and as he does, he sees riders from the event posting pictures via social media for other riders across the country that usually show off the river view from the park.

“We’ve had a strong bicycle culture in Memphis for 40 years,” Royer said. “They’ve been off the radar screen. They are getting on the radar screen. … Our political and business leaders have really seen the value of cycling through our communities – like they’ve seen symphonies and professional sports and university sports.”

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