For most people, parking garages symbolize the dreary daily commute, annoyingly high rates, and a metallic monotony that you can’t wait to get out of.
But four stories underground in one parking garage in Crystal City, Virginia, the garage is transformed for one weekend into a frenzied arena for intense, fast-paced, and wacky bicycle races.
The Crosshairs Garage Races, now taking place throughout March and April on Saturdays (instead of Wednesdays as previously), challenges amateur and elite cyclists alike to compete weekly for prizes and points in pursuit of the “Petty Cup.” Named in honor of Joseph Petty, the former Crystal City Business Improvement District employee and Crosshairs team member who conceived of the event, the Petty Cup is awarded to the racer in each category with the most points earned over the course of the first four weeks of the series.
The races span all sorts of styles, from Cargo Bikes to Tandem Bikes, Feds vs. Contractors team challenges, and Fixed Gear to Open races, just to name a few.
All levels of athletes are welcome at the Crosshairs Garage Races, which features separate races for weekend warriors, women-only, and elite cyclists. Elite veterans of the races know that it’s about much more than raw power — in fact, there are no open straightaways, so the real challenge is how nimbly racers can navigate sharp turns, zig-zags, and obstacles. Described by longtime attendees as “fight club with bicycles,” the Races, with their large, screaming crowds, funky outfits, and brightly-decorated bikes, are a truly unique flavor for the Washington D.C. area, and they come at the perfect time of year when outdoor activities are just starting to ramp up.
As Crosshairs Owner Bill Schieken puts it, the Crosshairs races are accessible to the entire Crystal City community due to their acceptance of all kinds of athletes, and their unique location which ensures that the event is never cancelled due to rain or snow! Bill, who has been programming these events for nearly 10 years, says that the Garage Races have always retained their "underground" feel — he describes it as the closest thing to Need for Speed: Underground that you'll find in D.C. Metro Area. According to Bill, one of the most valuable aspects of the races is to give cyclists a chance to compete head-to-head in real life, which is very different from their usual training regimens that they typically do alone on the street or using a stationary bicycle.
Friends, family, and those too timid to go that fast on two wheels can catch the excitement from the comfort of the sidelines while enjoying a drink from the event’s pop-up bar. And of course there’s an official after party at Highline RxR - where contestants and spectators can show their race bib or their #CrystalCity hand stamp for exclusive specials including $2 off burgers and sliders!
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