By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Seven-year-old Juelz Latsha jumped on his bicycle and began racing through the cornfield at Ard’s Farm Market on Saturday morning.
Juelz, of Herndon, was one of 32 competitors in Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority’s first Cyclocross Race.
“I didn’t finish,” Juelz said, describing the difficulty he encountered on the cornfield.
His mother, Shirl, said her son enjoys outdoor activities more than video games and will likely compete in the race again next spring.
Authority program director Elizabeth Stuelke said the race, dubbed the “PsychoCross” because of the obstacles and varied terrain older bikers face on the 1.8-mile course, is being held for the fun of it.
“We thought Lewisburg needed one,” she said.
Cyclocross was invented in the early 20th century as a way for professional racers to maintain fitness in the off-season when the weather was usually unpleasant. The sport has been gaining popularity in Central Pennsylvania, with major races held in Danville and State College.
Spectators at Ard’s cheered on the junior and adult riders in the hourlong race around a course that took competitors through a creek and swampy and muddy areas, and up hills.
Doreen Crawford, of New Columbia, has been a bike racer for nine years and enjoys the competitive sport that takes her mind off work and other responsibilities.
She and her son, Sam, 11, tested the course a few days before the race and she convinced him to join her Saturday for his first competition.
“It was a lot of fun riding through the woods,” Sam said.
Matt Pryor, of Selinsgrove, started competing in races in Riverside and Danville a year ago and found a thrill in pedaling under trying circumstances and in “raw conditions.”
Morgan Stuelke, and Michael Derr, both of Lewisburg, took the top two spots in the children’s shorter-course division.
Each struggled with different hurdles. Morgan said she encountered the most trouble traveling over gravel and Derr said the pieces of corn made handling his bike difficult.
After the race, the pair agreed with Derr’s father that the best way to unwind was with a hot cup of cocoa.
Buffalo Valley Recreational Authority officials said plans are already in the works to hold two annual races, in the spring and fall.