Oct 1, 2021 - Sports
Review: New cyclocross course at Centennial Park is a tough two miles
A man rides a bike on a cyclo-cross course.
Brannon Pack, director of cycling tourism for Experience Fayetteville, starts the cyclocross tour with Worth. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

I wanted to give Axios readers a firsthand account of what cyclocross riders experience at the new course at Centennial Park.

  • Brannon Pack, director of cycling tourism for Experience Fayetteville, was happy to take me on a tour.

What happened: After a short walk on the course, we donned helmets and clipped our shoes into gravel bikes.

  • Cyclocross bikes aren't wildly different from a sturdy gravel bike with a low center of gravity. But there's more clearance around the tires to allow for muck and mud.

The details: The course is about two miles long and has elevation gain of about 150 feet. That's roughly equal to climbing an 11-story building between the start and finish lines.

  • The course is deceptively pleasant at first as it drifts gently downhill into the woods.
A screenshot of a Strava map showing the cyclo-cross course.
A screenshot of Worth's Strava data recorded during a tour of the cyclocross course in Fayetteville. Screenshot: Firedog_

Yes, but: This course isn't for joyriders. It's made for monster competitors.

  • One hill riders will tackle is 17.8% grade over two-tenths of a mile. In layman's terms: it's stupid damn steep. This is where your heart earns its keep.
  • Then riders have to dismount and carry their bikes up a 38-step feature.
  • From the top of this feature is a killer drop with a maximum 21% downhill grade. After five minutes of envisioning my neck snapping, I took an easier descent (so this feature is missing from the Strava map I posted).
  • Then there are some nice rolling short hills that are a lot of fun.
  • In competition, they'll start all over again. And do it 12–15 times or so.

The bottom line: This may have been the toughest 2 miles I've done on a bike.

Of note: The course is being prepped for the Oct. 13 World Cup for the next couple of weeks, so it's closed to the public for now.

A wide set of stairs on the cyclo-cross course.
The 38 steps feel more like 3,800 steps with a bike on your back. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
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