Whittier Narrows Recreation Area Hosts CXLA
Cyclo-cross races and family cycling events return to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area for Cyclo-cross Los Angeles Weekend, Nov. 19-20. CXLA Weekend will host 60 categorized events for cyclists of all levels held over two days, and five family-friendly cycling events. Challenging competitors across grass, dirt, gravel, pavement, and a series of obstacles, CXLA is the only cyclo-cross event in California that is sanctioned by the Union Cyclste Internationale (UCI), the international governing body of cycling.
The Elite Women’s and Men’s Category 2 events are also sanctioned by USA Cycling and are part of the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar (Pro CX). CXLA is one of 22 Pro CX events in the U.S. this year, and the only Pro CX race weekend that offers stand-alone races for both Junior Men (17-18 years of age) and Under-23 Men. CXLA is also a premier event for the 14-race SoCalCross Prestige Series.
“We are excited to have great local vibe and great national talent coming out this month for CXLA. It is the only weekend of UCI races for elite riders in California this year. And with separate races for Junior Men and U-23 Men, this is a great opportunity for juniors to experience UCI racing on the west coast,” said race director Dorothy Wong, also a long-time director of SoCal Cross. “This event really meshes community with cycling, combining racing with recreation and advocacy. It will be a real treat for L.A. County and South El Monte residents to see incredible athletes and spend iime at the beautiful Whittier Narrows. There’s plenty of of activities for the entire family, from the kids to your family dog!”
Amateur racing starts at 8 a.m. each day. Junior events are offered for riders as young as six to nine years of age, a special age category so young riders can experience the pro course. There are Masters events for riders in 35+, 45+, 55+ and 65+ age categories. The UCI Elite women’s races are presented by Knobbe Martens IP Law and begin at 2:45 p.m. Sat/Sun. UCI Elite men’s races begin each day at 3:45 p.m. with awards ceremonies following. Among the elite riders expected to compete is Jonathan Page, four-time men’s U.S. Cyclo-cross national champion, who lives and trains in Utah, and 2015 U23 U.S. Cyclo-cross national champion Tobin Ortenblad, who is from Santa Cruz, Calif.
New participants can think of cyclo-cross as steeplechase on a bicycle, held on spectator-friendly courses with food trucks and a beer garden. The event is free for all spectators and is held rain or shine. Family-oriented activities for all ages will be held at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area – Legg Lake Park, located 750 Santa Anita Ave, South El Monte.
This year there are also “fun-d raising races”, which introduce cyclo-cross to children and provide awareness and funding for area non profits. A free Kiddie Cross race will be held at 12:30 p.m. each day, with three laps and small barriers on a short circuit. A Doggie Cross event will be held at 12:45 p.m. each day on the same course for all breeds. Following the canine competition, a Community Cross event will be held at 1:45 p.m., geared for beginners on any type of bicycle. Awards will be presented for the best dressed rider, and bicycle. The Community Cross and Doggie Cross events are $5 per person. Proceeds from Doggie Cross benefit Underdog Rescue. Proceeds from Community Cross, as well as the beer garden at CXLA, will benefit SAFE, Streets Are For Everyone.
In addition to SAFE, advocacy partners for the weekend include Bike San Gabriel Valley and Eastside Bike Club of East L.A. They will host an extra-pet-friendly ride Saturday at 10 a.m. from the park called Pet-acular Bike Train. The ride will go to the SGV Bicycle Campus and Education Center, where Bike SGV have transformed an elementary school property into a bike park. Riders will return to Legg Lake Park for special raffles and prizes and cyclo-cross viewing.
“Unfortunately, everyone has known a cyclist who has been killed or hurt from an impact with a motor vehicle. It’s important that all cyclists, rec riders and racers, build awareness for non-profit organizations in our communities who help save lives and promote an active, healthy lifestyle,” added Wong.
Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is a 1,492-acre park located in the City of South El Monte and is one of Los Angeles County’s largest and most popular recreation areas. The park is considered the hub of reclaimed wild space between the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River, known as the “Emerald Necklace”. There is a $6 entry fee to the park for vehicles. Car-free options to access the park include taking metro buses from El Monte, South El Monte and Rosemead which provide bike racks on the front of buses or using Los Angeles County Bikeways (http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dpr/216432_WNRA.pdf).