Known for riding off the front of group rides only to be caught in the first mile, CJ got back on a road bike and realized he must win the Donut Derby at least once in his life. Regularly pledging he's "not a climber," he can be found as a regular attendee of Trexlertown's Thursday Night Training Criterium or sitting on the couch watching Paris-Roubaix reruns. CJ has been a constant rider of the Hell of Hunterdon in New Jersey and races the Tour of the Battenkill before going into seasonal hiding on cross-country ski trails.

Events: The 2019 Kermesse Sport’s Spring Classic Series

Events: The 2019 Kermesse Sport’s Spring Classic Series

“It’s because the conditions are so tough that they can break riders and they can smash dreams. And that’s what we want, we want this uncertainty.”
— Jorgen Leth

A winter cycling challenge may have come and gone with marked failure, but the spirit of riding over 300 miles still stands. One approach entertained was trying to ride all of the Kermesse Sport Spring Classic routes in one week. We wised up to the fact that the Kermesse routes are difficult stand-alone experiences; linking them together for eight days would be a physical as well as an emotional affair. Winter depths have started to tighten its grip around here, but January 16 is registration day for the Kermesse Sport Spring Classic Series. There are notable changes for some of this year’s events. Sign up for the entire series here.

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Sourland Semi-Classic – February 24

 

Announcing a new starting location at V5 Cycles in Flemington, NJ, the youngest event on the Kermesse calendar, Sourland Semi-Classic, starts off the cycling season. The route features six unpaved sections, a continual uptick from a route that once featured a scant two unpaved sectors. It is the youngest event but also the shortest route of the four offerings. 

 

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Expect to pass through the Sourlands Preserve, a place haunted by participants of the American Revolution who sought safety in the rocky areas. Also in the vicinity is the Charles Lindberg house, which made headlines a century ago. While the route is not as hilly as its bigger sibling, the Hell of Hunterdon, Zion Hill Road climb is not to be taken lightly. Those prepping for the Hell of Hunterdon, or those who have completed the flagship event, will hit many parts of these roads again in one month’s time. Consider starting your outdoor riding season with this event. 

 

Hell of Hunterdon – March 24

 

It may not be the ride that started it all, but the Hell of Hunterdon is the event people talk about when spring cycling is mentioned. At 82 miles, the Hell of Hunterdon offers a distinctive nineteen unpaved sectors, all of varying technicalities. Some are slightly downhill giving the riders a sense of confidence; others pass by goat farms going uphill. The goats look on with indifference. Until the start of this year, the Hell of Hunterdon used to be the longest of the spring classics.

 

Expect to have a fickle day on course. There are moments when things are going perfectly (see: tailwind and downhill) and there are moments when the finish line is tantalizingly close but the route goes on. The Hell of Hunterdon is the proper cycling experience of doubt and confidence. The route tests rider and machine and it has one of the best after parties for any cycling event. This is the complete package with great door prizes, tasty food, comfy seats, and flowing beer. 

 

Fleche Buffoon – April 27

 

In its seventh year the Fleche Buffoon can be best described as an exploration of challenging hills. The next youngest on the list this ride is a bit more self-supported but as rewarding as the other Kermesse Sport events. The route follows the Delaware River north before crossing into New Jersey and looking for climbs heading south. The route combines nearly every climb locals will take out of towners for a taste of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties.

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Expect to bring a little bit of cash for this ride. Even if organizers doubled aid stations there is no telling when a coffee shop stop may do some good. In fact that is part of the experience considering the amount of quality coffee shops along the route. Also, expect to go upward a lot. Compact gearing is recommended as well as a sense of determination. Some approach this as a race simulator but for others the act of finishing without putting a foot down is more important.

 

Fools Classic – May 25

 

The biggest change in the Spring Classic Series involves the revamped Fools Classic. This is the ride that started it all twelve years ago. Want the most unpaved sectors at 34? The long course of the Fools Classic has it. Want to climb higher than any Kermesse event? How does 8,000 feet of climbing sound for the long course? Are the Kermesse distances a bit pedestrian? The Fools Classic long course is now a full century. This ride has all the experiences of Bucks County including Sunday Road, a gravel sector undiscovered until our last Fools Classic experience.

 

Expect either route to feel rural throughout much of the day. There will be only a handful of times when participants will pass through a busy hamlet. Also prepare to bring a couple tubes and a multitool. There is neutral support but it may require a lengthy wait considering the size of the course. Whether opting for the standard course – a respectable 72 miles – or the imperial century, this is one of those rides you will think about in the summer when it is scorching. You may find yourself returning to the shaded sectors of Bucks County to have another go.

Essay: On the 400th

Essay: On the 400th

Review: Eat Race Win (Musette Publishing)

Review: Eat Race Win (Musette Publishing)