When Bikes Ruled Stage Fort Park
Another exciting weekend in the dirt at the Gran Prix of Gloucester
To serious riders, early October in New England is known as “North American Cyclocross Holy Week.”
It starts with the KMC Cross Fest in Thompson, Connecticut, is followed by the Night Weasels Cometh race in Shrewsbury, and climaxes with the CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester, which took place last weekend at Stage Fort Park.
Cyclocross is the steeplechase of cycling. The sport is a mix of road racing, mountain biking, and running on an obstacle-filled course that snakes through every corner of the race venue. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (the World Cup season runs from October through February), and consist of several laps of a short (1.5- to 2-mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills, and obstacles that require a rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction, and remount.
For the past 18 years, nearly a thousand racers of all skill levels have descended on Cape Ann for the two-day series, which is likely the only professional sporting event Cape Ann has ever hosted. The course, which masterfully uses nearly every inch of available space in Stage Fort Park, was designed by Tom Stevens of Bolton, Massachusetts, whom GP Gloucester executive director Paul Boudreau calls the “Christo of American Cyclocross.”
“Gloucester is one of the most iconic races in the U.S.,” Travis Livermon, a rider from Winston-Salem, N.C., who finished 10th this year’s top race, told Cyclocross Magazine. “It’s always great to spend time at that amazing venue.”
The top three finishers in this year’s Elite men’s division were Curtis White of Schenectady, New York; Michael van den Ham, of Edmonton, Alberta; and Daniel Summerhill of Centennial, Colorado. The top women’s Elite division finishers were Helen Wyman, a UK racer who resides in Oudenaarde, Belgium; Emma White, Curtis’ younger sister, also from Schenectady; and Crystal Anthony of Beverly, Massachusetts.
Christopher Zigmont, a cycling industry veteran, summed the weekend up best.
“There is something about that place. It’s got a soul,” he told the Boston Globe. “I’ve been everywhere in the world that cyclocross races, and little comes close to the aesthetic drama of Gloucester.”
Jonathan Kozowyk is a commercial photographer based in Boston and New York.