Croton Cross 2023
by Warren Rosenberg - MetroSports Magazine October 9, 2023
One of Westchester County’s most beautiful parks came alive this past weekend as over 180 competitive bicyclists participated in the second annual Croton Cross bicycle race. Designated as a “Cyclocross”, the event took place over two days, Saturday and Sunday, October 7th and 8th, at Croton Point Park on the shore of the Hudson River.
Above: Starting grid along the bank of the Hudson River
One of the things that sets the Croton Cross apart from other sporting events is it’s philosophy of being, “dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming space for athletes, staff and spectators from different backgrounds, identities, and abilities”, and that “all attendees should have an equal opportunity to participate in our event regardless of race, color, religion, disability, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or national origin.” Across the range of teams and competitors participating in the event, this diversity was clearly evident.
To ensure that the competitors got to experience the challenge of a variety of racing surfaces, the course consisted of sections with paved surface, gravel surface, grass, and hard packed dirt which, because of Saturday’s persistent rain, often provided slippery wet grass, puddles several inches deep, and loose mud. Included on the course were sections called “the Bowl” with a deeply depressed region requiring off-camber riding, “Camels Hump” with steep inclines and descents, the “Nature Hike” featuring a steep downhill drop ending in a sharp switchback, the “Riverside Trail” which requires a dismount and climb over wooden barriers, and the “Belgian Steps” in which riders had to navigate over four step incline either by attempting to ride, or to dismount and carry their bikes up the steps.
Above: Rider ascending the Belgian Steps - some rode, many carried and climbed
Below: Riders descending the Nature Hike drop - some rode, some walked, some fell
Among the teams with cyclists competing was Shark River Devo, a junior and U23 development team based out of Monmouth County, New Jersey, representing the younger demographic. Seven athletes, ages 14 through 17 participated wearing the colors of Shark River Devo. Across two days of racing the Shark River Devo team captured five first place and three second place finishes. Summarizing up the weekend’s competition at the 2023 Croton Cross, Shark River Devo told us that, “the competition was great, the course was stellar on both days regardless of the weather, but obviously the weather adds some new challenges. The people that put on the race do an incredible job in every aspect. It’s a race we build our schedule around and already looking forward to next year.” And MetroSports will be there to watch and report.
Above: One of the members of New Jersey's Shark River Devo team navigating the wet grass and mud of the flats
Helping to validate the mission of the Croton Cross was the team of Be Cyclocross. Based in New York City and founded in 2021 with five initial members, the Be Cyclocross project states as its primary objective “to bring people of color to a new discipline of bike racing by lowering barriers of entry into the sport” and thereby “demonstrating that Black and Brown athletes have a place in cyclocross”. In order to facilitate that vision, Be Cyclocross provides each of its riders with racing bike for as long as they remain competing on the team, mentorship and coaching, covering all race registration fees, and providing assistance with travel, lodging and other race day logistics and, as they state, “an opportunity to ride, train, and race with fellow athletes of color.”
Above: One of NYC's Be Cyclocross riders emerging from the Nature Hike along a beautiful backdrop of the Hudson River
Another NYC based team was ROR_NYC with ROR standing for “Racing Off Road”. In Sunday’s Women’s Senior ¾ winning first place was ROR-NYC rider Galen Bolard, sharing the winner’s podium with her teammate taking second place, Emma Beutel. In Saturday’s event, they had previously shared the winner’s podium again but with Emma Beutel capturing first place and Galen finishing second.
Above: An ROR-NYC team memer clearing one of the barriers on the Riverside Trail
Below: One of the event winners, ROR-NYC's Galen Bolard with second place team mate Emma Beutel and third place winner Andrea Archer of Gambit Racing
Summing up her take on this year’s Croton Cross, Galen told MetroSports Magazine that, “this course is technical. It has everything from off camber, grass, roots, big run ups, a big wooded drop. It’s so fun, it will be on my event calendar for years. It’s one of the most inclusive races and groups of people, and accessible with the Metro North and Croton Aqueduct trail. Every team and spectator was encouraging and cheering. I enjoyed the commentator this year, Erin, she was spot on with the energy of the race, technical facts about the course and CX in general. This is my second season racing Cyclocross, and second year racing at Croton Cross. Most of my bike racing is on road, and I’m lucky I’m able to bring my fitness over into CX and get to practice the technical.” And we look forward to seeing her, and all the other racers and teams next year at the 3rd Annual Croton Cross.
Above: While not everyone left with a winners trophy, all took home some Croton Point mud.
Sponsors of the 2023 Croton Cross included Captain Lawrence Brewery, Sleepy Hollow Bikes, Baked By Susan, Café Cyclista NYC, and Kruis CX