Thursday, January 31, 2013
I'm flying to the World Championships in Louisville, KY late tonight with five of my fellow cyclocross racers. I can't think of a more explosive way to send off the most amazing season of cyclocross I've ever been a part of. Myself, I raced sixteen times - a combination of 3 “local” series and one trip to a UCI event + SSCXWC in Los Angeles. Maybe that is not a lot compared to some. I know of at least one other Bellingham local that traveled & raced in several states this year at the Elite level (looking at you Courtenay McFadden), going from Cross Vegas in September all the way to Nationals in Madison, WI the same weekend as Chiller. And now, we all get to turn our eyes to the world's best at a permanent cyclocross course called Eva Barnham Park, battling it out on the mud, grass, twists, & turns of our very own American soil. Look how far cyclocross has come in our country in such a short time! Luckly, I get to witness it first hand.
Participating (as a spectator) at the highest level of the sport will be something to behold and a huge amount of noise, but it won't drown out the success we had right here in our little coastal berg. It will give me some interesting perspective. We hosted seven races this season. We added one new amazing venue. We had several record turnouts and an average attendance of about 15% higher than last year, which was already another record year. We're not the only series to see such numbers, but we certainly may be one of the funnest!
Chiller Cross at Cornwall Park was an absolute blast - as good as a grand finale in a great series should be! There was some concern from the Parks Dept about damage there after the debacle of weather at Civic Fields, and Mother Nature had our back. The entire park was frozen! We had maybe 10 feet of mud where the sun peeked through the trees and melted a bit of the course, but that doesn't mean it wasn't tricky! I laid up an entirely new configuration of the course that many said was the best yet. I have to agree! We had stairs to run, logs to bunny hop, technical singletrack with roots to navigate, fast gravel to scream down, delicate icy grass corners to turn on. Oh, and the flyover was boosting! There was one descent that was surprisingly treacherous, and I'll have my eyes peeled & salt ready for that one next year - my apologies to anyone that went down and lost skin or worse!
Then we went on to celebrate with a ride & party last weekend. The Fun+alley Race was very well-attended, despite the awful weather. That's what 'cross racers do! The feedback from the event was very positive and I heard many requests to do this again (maybe in the spring?). Coins are still being turned in for pitchers at Kulshan Brewery - they're good until Saturday - but not as many as were consumed at the Awards Party that night. DJ Idlehands did another excellent job of spinning the beats. We had very nice custom hoodies made up for us by Liet Unlimited (owned by Becky, one of our reg girls) and awarded to the overall champions. The top Fun+alley teams were awarded prizes as well, with the fastest time to all 8 stations going to Tim Hubner and his BFF crew of Dan Froula and Doug Nathe in 2 hours, 11 minutes. Not quite fast enough to earn 8 races from me next year (too much lolly-gagging & chit-chatting, fellas?) but I think they'll all be gunning for the sub-2 hour mark come next January!
So yes, we'll keep it at seven races for now. I had a handful of new venues to announce - some certain, some likely - to replace those that might need a rest or have seen enough action in the past 7 years we've been doing this. I'm quite excited about the potential at these places, but I'll have to share more later! We also provided a survey for those in attendance to get your ideas for making the series even better, because it really is a shifting, changing concept each year. I will put that survey up for everyone to take part in (and do the whole thing, for those that didn't notice the back side of the page) along with some observations from Worlds next week.
Great job, everyone, for making the scene so positive, so energetic, and keeping me stoked to go after bigger & better opportunities for cyclocross racing in & around Bellingham. You will all be rewarded! Now let's root for the home team and see if we can see some rainbow stripes earned for the good ol' U.S.A. this weekend!