by Jan Haralson Contributing Writer
Jackson Meadows near Marine on St. Croix will be the site of the first annual Jackson Meadows Cyclocross event, sponsored by The Bikery of Stillwater. Under the sanction of the Minnesota Bicycle Federation, the event is scheduled for Oct. 24.
Cyclocross is a sport originating in Europe in the early 1900s as a way for riders to keep fit following the end of the road racing season. Cyclocross typically takes place in the fall and early winter using hybrid bikes that are somewhere between road bikes for lightness and mountain bikes for sturdiness.
The race course is usually a one-and-a-half to two-mile loop covering a mix of surfaces and obstacles. Sometimes courses include steep inclines, jumps over creeks or sudden drops. While covering the course, the riders must dismount and run while carrying their bikes over and around natural and man-made obstacles and riding on surfaces that may be paved, muddy, graveled or riddled with puddles.
Andy Powell, one of the Marine race organizers, said the scramble of cyclocross is one of the reasons the sport is so entertaining for observers and a great workout for participants.
“This is a very spectator-friendly sport,” Powell said. “Because the course is laid out in a loop, and the participants make several laps, spectators always have something to watch.”
While Powell enjoys biking, during the cyclocross at Jackson Meadows he will be behind the video camera to record the action.
The Bikery Cycling Club, formed in summer 2008, is headquartered at 904 Fourth St., Stillwater, in The Bikery.
A Belgian by birth, owner Oliver Vrambout established the business and invested 10 years in the Seattle, area developing a restaurant and bakery called The Mount Bak-ery,which he sold to his best friend in order to relocate to Stillwater two years ago. Vrambout’s wife, Shelly, is a native Minnesotan.
Marrying his love of baking with his love of biking, Vrambout opened The Bikery. The store is a coffee shop and bakery in front and morphs into a high-end biking shop in back.
“I’ve been on a bike since I was a kid,” Vrambout said. “Anything to do with biking, I love.”
Last year The Bikery participated in a cyclocross event in Afton State Park. For a variety of reasons, Vrambout was looking for another venue and Powell brought the Marine trail system, and specifically the trail segment in the Jackson Meadows area, to his attention.
“We wanted a closer location,” Vrambout said. “The people here have accepted our ideas and have been very supportive.”
The threat of inclement weather is not a negative at all. Vrambout believes it makes it exciting for the spectators and only adds intensity to the challenge for the riders.
“The Meadows is an easy area for spectators to access and it will offer a variety of challenges to the riders,” Powell said.
In addition, The Bikery will donate a portion of the proceeds of the race to further improve and maintain the trail.
“There will be four different races, each targeting an ability level,” Powell said.
The first event begins at 11 a.m., Oct. 24. The top division will begin at 2:45 p.m..
Organizers are expecting between 200 and 250 riders. Registration information and further details can be found at www.thebikeryshop.com.