2016 Cyclocross Nationals course preview on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC

The finals for the NC Cyclocross Series took place on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. The same venue that’ll host the 2016 U.S. Cyclocross National Championships. We strapped a GoPro Hero3 to the handlebars and signed up. The map overlay shows the course from 10,000 feet, but click through the break for a rider’s eye video view…

Our take: It’ll favor roadies as laid out here thanks to long straightaways that make pacelines important. The technical sections and run ups could get pretty nasty if it’s wet, but they’re fun if it’s not, and enough to give an edge to those with solid mountain bike handling skills. The climbs are a solid mix of punchy power ups and gradual, sustained efforts, which is what killed me. It’s a long course with plenty of room for passing and generally good sight lines to those in front of you when it matters…namely, the stretch to the finish.


  1. After seeing what Valmont Park had to offer this year, I don’t know, maybe it’s just the go pro effect, but that doesn’t look like a nationals-level course to me. 80% of it looks ridable on a road bike with a 28 tire. It’s two massive straights and a short climb? Asheville has way too much nice terrain for that to be the course.

  2. NO kidding it will favor roadies, as in you could literally race that course on a road bike. I mean (deleted), ya’ll know its ok to put turns in right? Also that course is actually half on the road. Step up your game. This doesn’t look like a national caliber cx course.

    With that said, looks like a neat piece of land with lots of potential but that course design seriously needs some work.

  3. Agree with Bill. Valmont set a high bar, need to bring in the guys who designed far better courses at charlotte/raleigh this season on a much smaller area. Wisconsin was better than that but mostly because the weather made it hard.


  4. All – This was a first attempt, and the promoter started two years early specifically so he could get racer input, albeit preferably from people that actually raced the course. I agree, that staircase would have been a nice run up opp, but flowing out of that downhill into the trees just past it was way more fun. It’ll undoubtedly change for the better, likely with many improvements being tested for the NCCX series in 2014/15. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a great opportunity to get on the Biltmore premises and tour the house for a killer discount, even if you’re not racing.

  5. Funny you should mention that Bill, I raced on a road bike with a 30 (cross tire) and had no issues. Word is that the course will be changed significantly before 2016, so I wouldn’t fret quite yet. The thing that the video doesn’t show is how rough the ground is, if weather is favorable it might not be such an issue, but a cold day made the course quite jarring. It seems that there is a bit of a go-pro effect because the run-up seems a bit understated, though with a good bit of speed and dismounting skill it was drastically better, but that will depend on how congested it is.

    Overall it was a fun course, but definitely favors fitness over finesse, a few sections allowed reasonable strong riders to get lead with great handling, but in the end it was a roadies dream.

  6. I raced this course & every other one in the NCCX series. It does need work. The middle section is great. It has a run up, a ditch, a drop off, good off camber section, & a turn into a barrier with a climb after. That being said, the rest is either straight & paved or straight & bumpy fields. The promoter did send out a questionnaire & is looking for feedback. I’m assuming that he got an earful.

  7. it was a test event to serve as an example for the folks at biltmore. its NOT a representation of what the actual course will be for 2016. there were features that couldnt be used yet for one reason or another and the distance/lap time will have to be increased… Valmont certainly set the bar high, but we’ve got two years to get ready and this was just the first foot forward!

  8. The GP course in Hendersonville blows the doors off the Biltmore course. Still time to make it MUCH better! That land has alot of potential.

  9. Wow. No wonder every American gets blown apart in Belgium.

    Is there going to be a fixed gear category? That might make it interesting. Or 20″. Or 20″ fixed. Get where I’m going with this?

    Not a hard course.
    Not a CX course.
    Please stop.

  10. Hi,

    Lots of good comments that match my impressions. If the ground is very rough or it’s muddy, it could be a difficult race of attrition as is, but much more of a simple “road” style course as others have noted.

    I’d like to see more tight turns, elevation changes, and natural features (another run-up?) along the ridge if possible. That course would also perhaps benefit from a flyover given how flat the main sections are.

    In terms of course length, I am not sure it’s too short if the video is correct. I think if the course designer just added some of the aforementioned course changes, you’d slow the speed down and the length would be less of an issue.

    That’s my feedback anyway…


  11. Another problem with this venue having lots of straightaways and no elevation change is that it’s going to make it extremely difficult to have a breakaway stick. There’s no opportunity to use a feature to initiate the break, not enough accelerations on the course (i.e. coming out of turns), no chance to break the line of sight to the pack. So anyone who does make a move gets reeled in by a pack working together.

    The end result is a bunch sprint on the final stretch, which usually causes carnage.

  12. Disappointing… It’s like making CrossVegas a national championship course – not real cyclocross. Incorporate more near the buildings, in the trees and on the ridgeline. Not at all worthy of a national championship.

  13. Bill, my sister did the course as an age grouper. Said it was the meanest course she ever rode. But, it had 8″ deep mud all the way around mid week and was dry by Saturday. You can’t control the weather.

  14. To all the people that talked smack about the course…..all I can say is that haters gonna hate! This course was a work in progress. In cyclocross you never know what to expect. Maybe rain, snow, sunny and dry, a technical course, a fitness course etc…If you can’t understand that you missed the point. You have to be good at a combination of skills, so haters sit back behind a computer and try to feel better about yourself by spreading negative vibes. I will keep spreading the positive vibes by going out to all the races and being ready for whatever they throw my way…. P.S. I raced both days and thought the course was super fun and I am thankful for all the effort put in to the event:)

  15. Above video was from the 2014 NCCX finale in Asheville. The 2015 course, though still having a lot of pasture and road, was greatly improved with a severe run up and a significant, technical climb and descent added. There is room for improvement, for sure, but 2015 was a huge step in the right direction.

  16. Has anyone outside of Asheville been involved in the course design, maybe say a Tom Stevens or a Pete Webber ? Just wondering

  17. Planning that Tom Stevens or Pete Webber were involved. They are the masters of the chicane.

    In the east we had NBX Gran Prix of Cross which has morphed again … it is a very twisty turny course. Just what CX should be.

    Let the roadies excel on Roads and leave CX to us who like chicanes.

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