Your Time: Junior Cyclocross Training Camp, Florence

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Cyclocross is a fast-growing sport that combines the technical skills of mountain biking and the intensity of traditional road racing. The races — often likened to steeplechase for bicycles — take place over a short loop of a mile or two, offering spectators up-close accessibility and excitement.

On five recent afternoons in April and May, about 30 kids gathered at Look Park in Florence to learn skills like jumping logs, powering through sand, and ascending and descending hills in grass and dirt.

Jeff Fowler and other Northampton Cycling Club members organized the program, which is offered through the Northampton Recreation Department.

Last Monday, the participants, ages 7 to 13, were treated to a visit from Jeremy Powers of Easthampton, the current and two-time U.S. national cyclocross champion who dropped by to help them up their game.

Each session ends with a full ride around the course where the kids time themselves for personal improvement — and generate plenty of their own enthusiasm.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors — and being daring,” said Ella Lamee, 11, of Northampton, after a lap through the woods. Alexander Hunkins, 10, of Florence, added, “Next week I’m lookin’ forward to the mud!”

To suggest a subject for Your Time, email Suzanne Wilson at swilson@gazettenet.com.