Friday, September 12, 2014
Descending darkness. A chill in the air. A few heavy rain storms. Leaves rattling across the ground...
If you are a mushroom hunter, you're hyper eager to get into the woods, to start looking around the forest floor for caps pushing up through the duff. If you're a hungry cyclocross racer or spectator, however, the clues that Fall is here are a bit different.
The biggest cyclocross series in Washington, i.e. MFG, is underway, with racers' shoes already filled with sand. CrossVegas happened, with Sven already notching a solid win and collecting the first UCI points up for grabs this season, as well as our local Bellingham pro Courtenay McFadden getting some serious screen time! StarCrossed is happening this weekend, with the bright velodrome lights and rowdy party on tap in Redmond to welcome the big-time pros to Washington. The cowbells are ringing. The beer is flowing. The tires are pressured (but not tooo pressured). It's go time!
Enough with the saliva-inducing prose! Let's get down to some serious Cascade Cross business. I have a couple big announcements to clear up any questions about the series this year - some good, some bad, some we-don't-know-yet.
First, the bad: the Silver Lake Outdoor Festival was tragically shelved. Those who were smart enough to venture out the Mt. Baker Highway last October to experience this gorgeous venue (pictured above) were treated to a rare experience - camping, live music, scenic surroundings, fresh air, and an awesome course. It had room for improvement, which I devised shortly after experiencing the course from the racer's perspective (as I always do). The best part of this course, by our standards, was the campground. It had banks and dirt and trees and the RUN-UP! I planned to expand our use of that area while compacting other areas to keep a similar length but slow it down a bit (lap times were fast), improve spectating, reduce conflicts with other park users, etc. We learned a few lessons about how big of a spectacle to throw that far out of town (attendance was light for the effort), but we were still prepared to provide an excellent but perhaps more subdued experience in the early part of our season.
Unfortunately, the Whatcom County Parks Department, when reviewing our course proposal this year, decided that layout was unworkable for them based on their 'vision' for the park. They only want campers who fish and chill in their camp chair or sit in their RVs, apparently. We were priced out of bringing an effective fundraiser for the Friends of the Deming Library back to Silver Lake Park. That is, one provider of public county services turning away another provider of county public services. That's a pretty selfish and short-term perspective, if you ask me. What's your opinion? What's your vision for the future of recreation in Whatcom County? Maybe you should share it.
From 8 race days in our series last year, that drops us down to 7. Then, we are taking away Day 2 of the esteemed Cross Border Clash. A little backstory: this double-header was always intended to be 100% international, that is, hosted in Canada on Sunday. However, due to huge differences in race licensing & event insurance approaches between BC and WA, this could never happen in a fair way. So we ran the same course backwards and always had a great time. We put the work into building the course on a private venue, so why not leave it up and use it again? Sunday turnout was always a bit light, but that didn't matter. We had fun, and our only Sunday race all year.
An open cyclocross Sunday in WA in the range of September-November is very hard to come by (see previous post for a rant on that), so we conflict. Initially, we conflicted with the Seattle series in Enumclaw, which we heard was a cool venue, but it's pretty far away and you needed a USAC license. Then we conflicted with Seattle series in Silver Lake (Everett). This year, we would conflict with MFG #5 back at Marymoor Park. We don't conflict with MFG. When opportunities arise, we partner with them. They may have a different flavor of course in Seattle then we do up here, but everything else they do is totally legit (in fact, the Cross Border Clash was originally Terry B's idea, and we tried to host it in Arlington at a venue Papa Berg suggested. He's pictured on their event page). For one, you're racing in field sizes of 100, not 30. It's a different kind of experience. So go down to Redmond and get yer points!
That does leave us with a small dilemma on how to award points for the Clash Cup, but we'll sort that out later. It also drops us down to 6 races. That's still a respectable series size (in fact the same as MFG), and you can add to that our Prologue and ever-popular Fun-Alley Race & Party, and you've got a nice full season of local 'cross ahead!
Now for the good news everybody wants to hear - new venues! Brad Nelson, who came out of nowhere (actually, Indiana) and swept up the Mens B overall last season, has partnered up with his new hometown club, the Whidbey Island Bicycle Club, and the city of Oak Harbor, to host our first venue in Island County. Whidbey Island has certainly been within our range of possibility before. I made the effort some years ago to get permission at Fort Casey down by the Keystone Ferry to Port Angeles, but to no avail. No worries! The city park these folks arranged for is perhaps superior in features & facilities, and having motivated, local resources on hand to get it prepped is invaluable. So I awarded them the Thanks Given'er. Please check it out and support their efforts!
That should be enough to whet your appetite for now. Other than these few changes, expect the same high degree of 'cross quality we have become reputable for around the Pacific Northwest. We've been at this for 8 years now (the same amount of time as CrossVegas, ironically), and we pride ourselves in the 3 Cs of great 'cross: courses, camaraderie, and competition!
Look for more specific announcements on the Bellingham BMX venue to leak out over the next two weeks. Check our Facebook page and Twitter feed (linked in the sidebar). I need to go glue a tubular. What are you doing to get ready?