Abraham Lincoln Never Did This: Cyclocross at the Old Soldiers Home

A few riders in the DCCX Super 8 race got into the spirit of the season with Halloween costumes. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The Armed Services Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., has provided respite for the country's bravest members of the military since its establishment in 1851. It was even the summertime quarters of President Abraham Lincoln. But the historical site has never seen anything quite like the DCCX Super 8 cyclocross race that sped through the grounds on Sunday.

Cyclocross, a bicycle race that consists of several laps on hilly terrain and multiple course surfaces, basically combines bicycling and obstacle course foot racing. Riders streak through stretches of asphalt or dirt until they hit a set of uphill steps or natural barriers that compel the racers to dismount and carry their bikes around the obstruction. The riders use fairly lightweight bikes, but it's still a real endurance and coordination contest.

The DCCX is one of the largest cyclocross events in the eastern United States, according to race organizers, with about 850 racers and 50 children competing in this year's showing of the sport, which is still in its relative youth.

"Let's go, angry old men," the public announcer said to motivate the masses in the 35 and over and 45 and over men's race, shortly after 8 a.m.

"There are kids on the course," the PA said a little later. "Do not ride backwards down the stairs. Bad parents," he admonished. The comments give an idea of the fun tone at the event. Halloween costumes were prevalent — neo-pro Justin Mauch dressed as Sacha Baron Cohen's immortal character Borat for his race. A mariachi band serenaded racers at one of the hairpin turns on the course.

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Lincoln lived at what is now called the Lincoln Cottage on the grounds of the Armed Services Retirement Home, and historians have speculated that he might have finished the last draft of the Emancipation Proclamation while there. We can't help but think he would have approved of DCCX.