AppleCross expanded to two-day event this weekend

Racers compete during AppleCross at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester in 2014. AppleCross, a cyclocross race that blends aspects of traditional road racing and mountain bike racing, has been expanded to a two-day event this year and will take place Saturday and Sunday. Photo courtesy of Shaun Galang/Cedarmeade Studios

The AppleCross bicycle racing event held annually at Winchester’s Jim Barnett Park continues to grow in popularity. So much, in fact, that this year’s event, scheduled for this weekend, will be a two-day affair.

“It kind of came together because of the race being so popular, it being so big, and people just raved over it, so we wanted to expand it for two days,” said Jon Hicks, who founded AppleCross in 2009.

The annual cyclocross event – which blends aspects of traditional road racing and mountain bike racing and features obstacles – has officially been a part of the Super 8 Cyclocross Series since 2011, serving as the kickoff for the eight-race circuit for the last two years. AppleCross will serve as the seventh race in the Super 8 circuit this Sunday, but it will also hold races Saturday as part of the Sportif Cross Cup Series, with which Hicks is also the series director.

Though both events will be held at Jim Barnett Park, Hicks said the course will undergo major changes between Saturday’s and Sunday’s events. He said Saturday’s Sportif race will feature the “classic” course similar to past AppleCross events, while Sunday’s Super 8 event will “feel like a brand new course.”

“The first parts of the start and the last parts to the finish are the same but everything in between will be either brand new or some reverse direction, but it will feel like a completely different course,” Hicks said. “And I’ve added sections and areas within the park that we’ve never used before.”

Racing on both days begins at 8:15 a.m., with the last races scheduled for 3 p.m, and races for men and women of varying age/skill groups will be held throughout that time period each day. The Super 8 Men’s Elite race – limited to racers holding a Category 1, 2 or 3 ranking – will be the final race Sunday afternoon.

AppleCross features junior events for boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18, as well as beginner races for men and women.

There will also be “Lil’ Belgian” races for children who will be younger than 9 years old on Dec. 31, 2016, (children who will be 9 or older on that date qualify for the junior races, Hicks said). One “Lil’ Belgian” race is scheduled for noon Saturday, while two more will be held at 10 a.m. and noon Sunday.

“Everyone gets participation medals,” Hicks said of the children’s races. “… Anybody that can get out there and get on a bike, whether they’re on training wheels or not, mom and dad can get out there and push and help them around. It’s just a fun thing.”

Registration for AppleCross will close at 8 p.m. today, although Hicks added that he will likely extend the registration period for Sunday’s races to Friday night. Adult registration is $29 for each day, while junior registration is $15. Junior registration for 9- to 14-year olds will be $10 on Sunday.

A USA Cycling license is required for all junior and adult racers, and one-day licenses are available for purchase for $15. AppleCross registration and purchasing of USA Cycling licenses can be done online at bikereg.com.

Hicks said he’s hoping AppleCross will attract anywhere from 800 to 900 racers over the two-day period. Spectators can watch the event free of charge.

“Cyclocross is by far the best spectator bicycle race there is, other than maybe BMX,” Hicks said. “The reason is that the course is fairly short – in the case of our course it’s about  2 1/2 kilometers in length. Most of the races will be racing four, five or six, maybe even seven laps. You can walk the different parts of the course to see even more of it, to see the different features. So it’s not like when someone just goes by and then you never see them again. You’ll see people racing all the time. It’s a great spectator sport.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com