American cyclo-cross is in a state of interregnum. After two decades of rocketing growth in participation, sponsorship and media coverage the steeplechase of cycling has apparently reached an apogee in its trajectory. In such periods of any activity, experts study athletes and results in search of any indicators of rising greatness. And one name stands out: Lizzie Gunsalus. Making her debut in the elite ranks this season, the New Englander recently finished fifth in an international event just 15 seconds behind Ellen Noble, a silver medalist at the 2017 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. Did we mention Lizzie is just 17? Picking our favorite moment in her young career is challenging. But during the pre-ride of KMC CrossFest being held at Providence our affection for her spunk and spirit spiked. While tweaking the course, we were assailed by a director of an elite women’s team. Furious about the double fly-over we had constructed to pour riders down into the famous bowl, he demanded we remove it from the course or he would take his riders out of competition. We walked over to observe elite riders. That’s when a giggling Lizzie Gunsalus charged at the base, scrambled up and over the top, and dropped down into the bowl with the gleeful yelp of a rodeo rider. She was 11 years old. The feature stayed. The team director quietly withdrew. As organizers we’ve come to realize how important good regional events can be for the development of the sport. As we prepare to announce our 2020 plans at our Nov. 23 KMC CrossFest, we realize that Big Events Matter especially for the young juniors.
About the KMC Cross Fest:
The 11th annual KMC CrossFest will be held Nov. 23rd, 2019 at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Conn. Originally promoted in Providence, the KMC CrossFest has risen to become one of the region’s most prestigious cyclo-cross events. This year’s edition will host the 6th stop of The Connecticut Series of Cross, organized by the nationally renowned Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, the region’s most successful junior development program. Event registration at BikeReg.com.