HOUGHTON - The lights are on as dozens of competitors go full-bore at Sherman Field in Houghton.
No, it's not football - the Michigan Tech Huskies are on the road - the competitors are cyclocross racers and the event is the second annual Sherman Cross event Saturday.
Cyclocross brings mountain bikes into an arena setting with music and fan seating. A vast majority of the course will be visible from the Sherman Field bleachers and unlike the gridiron, almost nothing is out of bounds.
"Cyclocross is kind of like a mountain bike race with a house party," Ian Marks, one of the organizers, said.
The event is a fundraiser for Michigan Tech's track and field team.
Cyclocross features several types of unusual obstacles, including some the competitors will have to dismount to navigate, as riders take several laps around a course about a mile-plus in length. One of the most notable challenges is running (with bike in hand) up the steep hill between the bleachers and the VIP tailgate area.
"Kind of the novelty of it is every course designer gets to put their own stamp on it," Marks said.
This year's course is all within the stadium area and lighting has been improved to keep racers on course.
The race is the first in a season-long series of U.P. cyclocross races that will include the Keweenaw Cup weekend in Copper Harbor Oct. 20-21 and concludes on Dec. 1.
Registration is open to all riders for just a $10 fee and there will be races for multiple different skill levels. Men's C and Women's B races will take place at 7:30 p.m., with Men's B and Women's A at 8:15 and Men's A at 9 p.m. before the evening closes with a "clunker" race.
Last year, about 50 racers participated, but up to 100 are expected for a second dose of punishment.
"It's almost like you want to make it so the riders hate it," Marks said.