a) Thanks for taking a lot of the bumps out from the course, are you doing more work?
Yes! We've already spent HOURS at the course in 2017 and have plans to continue working to make this a great race track. Will the entire thing be smooth like a rail trail? No. The freedom we have to create this course is absolutely amazing, and you just have to believe me that having this race where we do is, by far, the best option for everyone!
1) Where is the Alma GP?
The Alma GP is held in Alma, Michigan, at the site of the former airport. For online maps, use the address: 1300 Bridge Ave., Alma, MI 48801.
b) You added a 5k running event?
Yes! In 2016 we tried it, and while the attendance was small, we're happy to bring it back for 2017. We hope to encourage more participants to take part in what is a great day of racing. Racers will complete two laps of the full 'cross course, which will include running over all of the obstacles (two sets of stairs, plus whatever else JB decides to add into the mix) on course.
2) Do I need a special bike?
No, you can use a road bike, mountain bike, or cyclocross bike to race in the Alma GP. If you do ride a mountain bike, you may not use bar ends. If you use a road bike, you may not use aero bars. Tire width rules do not apply to the Alma GP since it is not a UCI event. Fatbike snow tires are welcome, and I'd personally love to see you haul that 50 lb breast around the course. Special consideration is given to those with bikes more than 50 years old. But not really. Kleins, on the other hand, are definitely given special treatment. And Breezers.
3) Do I need a special license to race the bike race? What about the running race?
Yes, for the bike race, you need to either hold an annual USA Cycling license or purchase a one-day ($10) license to cover your insurance. This makes sure we all have a good day. For the running race, you do not need a license.
But what if you're one of our friends from Canada or outside the U.S.? It's simple. Have no worries. ALL race categories are limited by the fastest category in each time slot, meaning that all categories are open to "beginner" license holders. That means yes, you can just purchase a one-day category 5 (men) or 5 (women) license and race with the pro men/women, if you want. (However, understand this is done entirely to encourage those non-license holders to actually race where they *should* be racing...you may get pulled if you're severely off the back in the pro men's or women's events. This is done PURELY for racer safety). UCI licenses also work just fine.
4) What's the course like?
This course is on the Eastern edge of town just about a mile away from the growing downtown. Most all of the racing will be done on grass and dirt. Cyclocross courses typically incorporate obstacles that run the width of the course (3 meters) and force racers to get off of their bikes and run short distances. The Alma GP incorporates both wooden planks (up to 40 cm tall) and two small staircases in the race. I am an old school 'crosser that liked it when we had five sets of barriers per lap. I like fast courses that challenge your ability to ride your bike through corners at speed. But what else can I say, you'll find out all you need to know on 9/9/2017 and on the Alma GP eve when I post photos here and on Facebook.
5) Is the venue kid friendly?
Yes. I have two daughters. Everyone will be with me on race day. We'll be doing some sort of kid race/ride on the course, so stay tuned.
6) Bike Law is the new team supporter?
Yes! Be sure to check out their website and ask for their Legal Handbook for Michigan Cyclists in your local bike shop.
7) I hear there will be a mix of east-side, west-side, and northern 'crossers from all over the state? Is that true? What about our friends from Canada?
Watch out. The Ithaca GP was the first real bridge race in 2007. Guys like the Surly Man and the McIntyre crew from the west side keep bringing friends over from the famous Kiss Cross races. And since there is no overlap on the date between Alma and a Kiss Cross race, expect to see a few of the west siders there. And the east siders, if they can find their way through the corn fields, do also tend to show up. It's pretty much a battle royal out there. Some even come from Canada to race! In 2015 we broke every non-existent record by hosting five Aussies in town for the race. So I guess I should start calling this event the INTERNATIONAL Alma Grand Prix of Cyclocross & 5k...
8) I hear some people glue their tires to their wheels for cyclocross. What?
Yes, some do. The Alma venue is typically free from the types of things that would make me hesitant to run my "A" wheels. So bring your fancy carbon hoops with sticky gluey tires and ride fast. That being said, it's a natural area, so don't blame me if you get a puncture. This site used to be a dumping ground for yard waste after it was retired as an airport. Therefore I routinely find "interesting" things on site...some are not so tire friendly, but for the most part you'll be fine.
Everyone that is too lazy to reglue their tires at the beginning of the 'cross season usually ends their day of racing early - the twisty and off camber sections through the "superprestige" sections will really put a strain on your 3 year-old glue job. Don't be one of those guys/gals, if you glue your tires make sure they are on like a bear before you race.
9) Those jerseys are AWESOME! What's up with that?
The Alma GP is still the only 'cross race in Michigan that awards winners jerseys to ALL TOP CATEGORY FINISHERS! The winner's jersey represents all that is Alma cyclocross.
10) Why the move to Alma?
After five great years of racing at Ithaca's Woodland City Park, the race's rapid expansion forced me to look to an alternate venue. When I contacted a few local friends about a potential move, I wasn't all that enthusiastic about the potential options. However, in discussing the possible relocation with with City of Alma officials, I was made aware of a previously abandoned piece of land - the site of the former City of Alma airport - which is the new site for the Alma GP. While this venue was in desperate need of a lot of work, it has proven to be a great site for a semi-permanent 'cross course. Stay tuned to this site and the Facebook page for spy photos.
Moving forward, I thoroughly expect the Alma GP will be bigger and better than anything we've previously seen in Michigan 'cross... Join us for the ride.