The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • 'Cyclocross' coming to Newton

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  • There is a new event coming to Centennial Park this weekend — a bicycle race that is a bit unique. It's called the Sand Creek Cyclocross Challenge.
    Racers will compete on a loop of about a mile and a quarter — and at times they will need to carry their bikes over obstacles.
    "As a spectator this is a lot of fun to watch " said organizer Lester Limon.
    Limon is part of a group born out of the ReNewton project. The group is dedicated to increasing bicycling activity — in all forms — in the community of Newton.
    Cyclocross races typically take place in the autumn and winter. The international or "World Cup" season is October through February. Each race consists of several laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.
    And this weekend is a chance to not only see this type of racing — but for the brave to give it a try.
    "The equipment we use is specific — but mountain bikes are welcome," Limon said. "A beginner, who has a mountain bike, if you are curious, come out and try it."
    There is a fee to race — but watching the races will be free. Races will start at 10 a.m.
    The course in Centennial is a level course with one large sledding hill, a sand pit and two barriers. There will be 14 races — based on gender and age for divisions. Races are generally between 30 minutes and an hour long, with the distance varying depending on the ground conditions.
    "It is off road and all weather. That changes the course," Limon said. "In it's full glory spectators dress up, riders dress up and it is a lot of fun. There is a pretty jovial atmosphere for the spectators. I would hope I could get between 75 and 100 participants to arrive, and to draw in some local interest as well. I would like more women and kids involved. It is a growing sport in the United States."
    Limon has competed in similar races in the past — riding courses in places like Colorado, Lawrence and Kansas City, Kan.
    Now he's turing attention to Newton, hoping to get the sport moving here.
    "I am into the sport and enjoy it," Limon said. "I decided, along with a friend, that we would try and put together a weekend of bicycle racing in the hopes we could start a grass roots efforts here. … I would like to increase bicycling activities in Newton. We have a community that has a health and wellness priority."
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