It was a smooth but wet day for about 400 off-road bicycle racers in the fifth annual Hyattsville CX.
The wet weather was no problem for these racers, who seemed to relish the sprinking rain throughout the day. They compete in a discipline called cyclocross, a form of mixed-terrain bicycle riding which combines elements of road and mountain bike racing. In addition to speeding down grassy straights and negotiating tricky turns, riders must also dismount to navigate obstacles in technical sections like barriers and fallen riders.
"It went really well, consider we were at 40 percent rain at the beginning of the week, then up to 90 percent rain in the middle of the week, then down to 60 percent rain for Saturday," said Schieken. "We ended up getting the perfect amount. Guys who race cyclocross like to race in the mud"
The course featured a redesigned technical section in the back-woods of Magruder Park which increased the distance riders would have to travel through the tricky stuff.
In previous years, the wooded section was short enough that one could dismount and run their bike through the section without losing much time. The new layout made that decision to carry more risk, said Schieken.
Men's elite winner Stephen Cummings, a Pittsburgh resident who races for Charm City Cycles, said that the wooded section separated the racers out a lot.
"It wasn't super technical as some other courses, but where it was technical, it was very technical," said Cummings.
The new section featured an off-camber descending turn along a creekbed which many riders struggled to navigate upright. Take the wrong line and your bike could be tripped by a glarled tree root.
But where the cyclists enjoyed the damp weather, it served to keep some spectators away. Attendance was down among the crowds over the day, a fact which Hyattsville Communications Manager Abby Sandel chalked up to the weather.
The Hyattsville CX raises money for the Prince George's County Special Olympics cycling team. Throughout the five years the Hyattsville CX has been around, it has raised more than $15,000 for the Special Olympics.