'Very intense' cyclo-cross race zooms into Toronto park

Cyclists were riding way outside their bike lanes on Saturday, at a cyclo-cross race in Christie Pits.

Christie Pits Cookie Cross race attracts 250 cyclists

Cyclo-cross is an increasingly popular sport, where riders take on short, tight courses filled with grass and obstacles. (Peter Kraiker)

Cyclists were riding way outside their bike lanes on Saturday, at a cyclo-cross race in Christie Pits.

Around 250 riders took part in the Cookie Cross race in the downtown Toronto park—and they weren't pedaling a smooth trail.

The mainly-grass course featured short, tight laps of sand, leaves, twisty hills, and obstacles.

Riders (some of whom dressed up for the occasion) had to carry their bikes over obstacles for parts of the course. (Peter Kraiker)

"It's a very, very intense sport," said head organizer Marcus Boyle.

"But the pain's over in a short amount of time."

Around 30 kids tried their hand at cyclo-cross during the youth race at Saturday's event. (Peter Kraiker)

Cyclo-cross is an increasingly popular form of bike race in Canada. 

Boyle said the races are largely about bike-handling skills. They can be incredibly taxing on riders, he said, as they do multiple short laps on courses with rough terrain and tricky obstacles.

Crowds cheered and playfully heckled as riders grappled with obstacles on the Cookie Cross course. (Peter Kraiker)

CBC producer David Michael Lamb was one of the racers. He told Metro Morning on Friday that cyclo-cross is "probably the most of obscure of all the biker disciplines, but also the most spectator friendly."

"It's tight, loops back on itself, lots of hairpin corners," he said.

"It's challenging for the riders, but it also means that as a spectator you can see, in some cases most of the course from one place."

Cyclo-cross races have some challenging terrain--especially for novice riders! (Marcus Boyle)

The city of Toronto was involved in developing the Cookie Cross race, which had events for kids, novices and experienced racers.

Boyle said he hopes to see more cyclo-cross races in the future.

"Our goal was to make this an event that the community would want to have back," he said.

Organizer Marcus Boyle said he hopes there will be more cyclo-cross races in Toronto's future. (Marcus Boyle)