GLOUCESTER — After months of deliberation among promoters, city officials and residents on all sides, cyclists from around the world are gearing up for the 15th annual Gran Prix of Gloucester.
The cyclocross racing is set or Saturday and Sunday, with up to 1,500 racers expected to converge on Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park to participate in what has become a nationally and now globally recognized cycling event.
Racer Terry Cowman, 60, who will be competing again this weekend, describes cyclocross as, “a style of riding that’s somewhere between mountain and road biking.”
“It takes place on all kinds of terrain — dirt, grass, sand, a little pavement – and includes both man made and natural barriers that make it so you have to run with your bike,” Cowman said. “It’s a ton of fun.”
But an event that features many cyclists racing across the grass of a park can do real damage to the landscape. So said the group of local residents who complained to Gloucester City Council about the condition in which Stage Fort Park was left after the event was complete. And they drew backing from City Councilors like Greg Verga, Joe Ciolino and Bob Whynott.
“Back in May (when the complaint was made), I left a meeting thinking the event wasn’t going to happen in Gloucester this year,” says the Gran Prix’s Executive and Technical Director Paul Boudreau, 47. “For a couple of months, our focus was only on the venue.”
That focus has paid off.
On Aug. 27, the council’s approval confirmed that the event would continue at Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park, but on the condition that the promoters take responsibility for adhering to a list of conditions drawn by the council’s Planning and Development Committee and fulfilling a secure bond. But the negotiations were well received by many individuals and groups, like the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, that wanted to see the event stay local.