By Jason McDowell Creative Director Published Aug 27, 2021 at 12:01 PM

Between the regular season, World Cup races, the national championship and the world championship race, the midwest (and its near neighbors) are poised to see high levels of competition among cyclocross superstars.

Cyclocross (CX) is an autumnal, off-road form of bicycle racing that sends participants around a short track of variable terrain and other obstacles, which may include grass, sand, hills, barriers, mud, and off-camber twists and turns. It's a bit like a mud run, but on bikes. Event organizers try to build a course that requires the right combination of bike handling skills, strength, and speed. Participants, on the other hand, aim to find the right balance between party and competition.

Poster for the 2021 Wisconsin CX SeriesX

After a year-long hiatus, the Wisconsin Cycling Association has re-launched the Wisconsin CX Series with a full regular season of 13 races across nine weekends – including OnMilwaukee's first foray onto the calendar, Hill Bill.

OnMilwaukee's Hill Bill, will take place on Oct. 3 at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, and will feature run-ups, ridges, switchbacks and suffering. It is a partnership with Wheel & Sprocket with a benefit for the Wisconsin Veteran's Chamber Association. More on that, coming next week (but if you can't wait, you can find more info here).

Cyclocross World Cup returns to the Midwest

As a nice little bonus, sandwiched in between the regular schedule, the UCI Cyclocross World Cup competition will kick off with three U.S. races located in Wisconsin and the greater midwest area. The CX World Cup is a top-tier race series, and it sees many of the highest-level competitors travel from overseas to pick up points in the overall competition and intermingle with professional racers from all around North America.

In past years, these have included superstar CX world champ Mathieu van der Poel, who briefly wore the leader's jersey in the Tour de France this year, Wout van Aert, another CX world champ who has won six stages in the Tour de France and the Olympic road race silver medal, the legendary Marianne Vos who has won every jersey competition and 30 stages in the Giro d'Italia, and Jolanda Neff, an upcoming superstar who has pulled together several wins in the mountain bike cross country World Champs as well as Olympic gold.

The three World Cup locations include the Trek Factory headquarters at Waterloo, Wisconsin, the state fair grounds in Iowa City, Iowa, (a mere four hours away), and Fayetteville, AR (which is very nearly in the Midwest, so we'll claim it for these purposes).

Two cyclocross racers descend a muddy hill at the Trek CX Cup in 2019.X
A cyclocross racer carries his bike up a muddy stair set at the Trek CX Cup in 2019.X
The Trek CX Cup was spectacularly muddy in 2019. Photos: Jason McDowell.

One of the best part about these events is that they are preceded by amateur racing, which allows novice and amateur racers like you and me to compete against each other on the same world-class course as the pros. Imagine being able to play basketball on the Fiserv Forum court hours before Giannis hits the floor.

After Fayetteville, the World Cup competition heads back overseas, but the local action doesn't end there. The regular Wisconsin racing schedule resumes with racing through to the State Championship in Waterloo in November.

Cyclocross World Championship

This is followed by the National Championship which, this year, will be conveniently located in Wheaton, Illinois (slightly west of Chicago). Nationals, of course, brings the best domestic racers to the area.

Finally, the season will conclude with the Cyclocross World Championship (the World Champs is different than World Cup), which will bring the best from around the world back to Fayetteville for the pinnacle of competition to decide the best racer of 2021.

The last (and first) time the World Championship came to the United States was in Louisville in 2013, so seeing it return will be a real treat.

Overall, it's a pretty incredible series of opportunities.

You can find out more about the Wisconsin CX Series at

Jason McDowell Creative Director

Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.

In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.

Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.