The History According to Baba
You asked for the history…
Bassett Creek Park in Crystal, MN has become the standard for CX racing in MN. Other sites do a great job with layout , promotion, etc, but because of it’s variety of terrain and surfaces and it’s proximity to the riders of the metro area, BCP has long been considered the premier spot to hold the State championships.
In the early nineties Wirth Park in Minneapolis was the de facto site, with pioneers Gene Oberpriller, Bob Boyd, Dave Pike and George Hayes others, including the default referee for all the early races, Ken Ring, driving the ‘cross’ movement. An inflexible park department and ‘nimby’ neighbors closed the curtain on these early efforts, but the cross scene was growing and other promoters started to step up, getting parks and ski hills in the metro area. Many of these site were great locations, but also fell to the wayside because of conflicts.
One of the early promoter/racers was Bill (Baba) O’Reilly who was a park and recreation commissioner in Crystal. He had promoted many criteriums in the City of Crystal and decided to start fielding events in BCP. From 1993-1997 Bill promoted many races and series in the spirit of the emerging sport. ‘Psychlo Therapy Sessions’ 1 through 3 had categories of hard, harder and hardest instead of typical criteria, and were weekly series with a $5 entry fee. The ‘Pre-Nuptial Cross’ was staged for some friends who were getting married the next day. Another was ‘Call Your Mama’, promoted and staged in a two week period because of a cancellation.
The next couple of years the race became ‘The Witches Brew Cycloross’ with Bee Gees disco music blaring on the run up and life size posters of ‘Baywatch’ lifeguards adorning the course. In 1999 this became the state championship and has been ever since. From the earlier years, with just Bill and few others setting up and tearing down, and the Kenwood Krew carrying the load for 7 years, it has evolved into a committee hoping to set a new standard for the event, which now attracts nearly 300 riders on the second weekend of November.The race has always taken all the profits from the entries and given them back to the City of Crystal Park and Rec program to subsidize youth programs for kids who can’t afford them.