Spotlight turns to Fayetteville course in cyclocross series

The USA Cycling Olympic Development Academy cyclocross team held its first team camp earlier this year at Centennial Park in Fayetteville / Experience Fayetteville

All eyes are on Fayetteville this week in the world of international bike racing.

Aside from being one of only three U.S. cities to host a race in the annual UCI Cyclocross World Cup series, the Fayetteville event on Wednesday, Oct. 13 will provide the world with a preview of the course to be used in January’s UCI World Championships.

The two-mile course, which sits atop Millsap Mountain at Centennial Park, is purpose-built for cyclocross racing, which is rare for the sport which typically takes place on temporary courses set up in parks and other areas.

Riders begin on a short stretch of pavement before veering into the grass and descending through the eastern portion of the mountainside.

Each lap includes about 150 feet of elevation gain, most of which comes from a grueling uphill that reaches grades as steep as 17% while racers climb back to the top of the park.

From there, it’s the first trip through a double pit stop area before starting a southern loop that includes a small tunnel, two off camber sections, a brief ride through the woods and a short run over some flat rock cobbles.

The course’s big attraction is next, which features a permanent, 38-stair run up where riders will dismount and carry their bikes to the top of a massive hill and then hop back on for an unnerving ride down the slope’s 21% grade descent.

After passing back over the tunnel, riders head into the pit area for a second time before winding through a series of corkscrew berms and back onto the pavement to complete a lap.

Note: We previewed the course last month before the barriers were set up, so check that out below if you’re interested.

The park and several trails are temporarily closed to the public this week while crews work to install barriers, set up tents and complete other preparations for the event.

With the City Council’s recent decision to create another Outdoor Refreshment Area inside the park, the area is primed for spectators, but anyone who’s planning to attend this week’s event should know that there is no on-site parking.

Spectators should instead park at Baum-Walker Stadium and catch a free shuttle to the park. Shuttles will run continuously through 6 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.

Bikes are not allowed inside the race venue, but a bike parking area will be available. The bike parking area will be secure, but riders should lock their bikes and secure any valuables.

Gates to the park open at 10 a.m. The women’s race begins at 12:30 p.m. and the men begin at 2:05 p.m.

Organizers have established a COVID protocol for the event. Those planning to attend must be prepared to provide proof of full vaccination (final dose at least two weeks prior to the race) or proof of a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test (PCR or antigen) taken within 72 hours prior to entry. A screen shot on a mobile device will suffice.

Tickets are free, but registration is required. Spectators can reserve a free ticket at

Course preview

2021-2022 UCI Cycloccross World Cup schedule

Oct. 10: Waterloo, Wisconsin, USA
Oct. 13: Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Oct. 17: Iowa City, Iowa, USA
Oct. 24: Zonhoven, Belgium
Oct. 31: Overijse, Belgium
Nov. 14: Tabor, Czech Republic
Nov. 21: Koksijde, Belgium
Nov. 28: Besançon, France
Dec. 5: Antwerpen, Belgium
Dec. 12: Val Di Sole, Italy
Dec. 18: Rucphen, Netherlands
Dec. 19: Namur, Belgium
Dec. 26: Dendermonde, Belgium
Jan. 2: Hulst, Netherlands
Jan. 16: Flamanville, France
Jan. 23: Hoogerheide, Netherlands