Photos by John Watson
Going to the Cyclocross Nationals with the express interest of getting images of our new Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team x House Industries sock turned out to be a tricky thing. Thankfully, our man on the ground, none other than Mr. Radavist himself - John Watson - was able to deliver the goods from behind the camera. The course conditions were not only ripe for some sweet sweet cyclo- action, but also creating amazing photos of the socks, and highlighting fantastic rides by both Dan Timmerman and Brittlee Bowman. Sincerely, thank you Watson.
MUST READ: The Radavist - 2015 Cylocross National Championship Race
To say that John "saved the day" would be a bit of an understatement. He saved the entire week. Sure, he might have been involved with the beer spraying early on in the season, but when it comes down to it, hasn't everyone been involved in a few things that they look back on and go... "uh, well, I guess I won't do that again." MIne involved the giving away of free movies at the video store I worked at in high school, but that was before anyone had a blog.
In fact, I'm hoping that the "I guess we won't do that again" feeling is a prevalent one after this whole debacle is said and done. The number of bummed cyclocross fans / racers / promoters / vendors involved is mind blowingly awesome.
Dan rolls in to 5th place!
"Are you awake?" It was a harmless enough comment, but I had been awake for nearly an hour at this point just staring at the screen of my phone. "What the fuuuck." Was the noise that came from the floor where apparently my bunkmate for the week - Mr. Kevin Sparrow - had been finding out the news in a very similar fashion.
"They are canceling Nationals because there is too much mud?" It was a phrase that was repeated too many times over the next couple hours to much credulity. In fact, it was another guest of the prestigious Radavist B&B who said it best "isn't this the kind of weather that we want to happen?" Looking through the day's other National Championship races confirmed it - yes in Belgium and yes in the Netherlands. But it seemed that the Parks Department of Austin transpired against us.
So, we decided to to what we always do when the going gets tough. We rode our bikes.
Crash Nationals Part Two
John came under some duress in this case. That he would *gasp* dare to oppose the parks and try to bandit the race. Some said he wasn't doing anyone justice by causing further damage to the parks. That maybe we should just let it be. Oh, the life of a big time blogger. It can be dramatic. Don't make me get my machete out.
But, it did something else on that day than piss people off (though we saw no one who looked like a cop, or a fellow angry park user, or anyone that looked bummed at all). It gave us a few fun moments to take our mind off what we were really there to do - watch and cheer on some amazing bike racing.
Jeff Curtes - photographer and part of the Speedvagen Racing team said it best. "Someone screwed up when they said the word 'cancel.' If they would have said "post-pone" or "delay" everyone would have looked at their phones and gone on with their business, waiting for the delay to be over. But, it was cancel that got them."
I chased a few leads on flights for the coming days. The thought of missing the actual reason that we all come here was really starting to bum me out - until I started doing math. $200 extra on the rental care $200 fee to change the flight around, plus the countless meals that would come between then and actually leaving. And this is for someone who is basically sleeping on an air mattress in an office. Not a bike racer forking it out for my own accommodations. Luckily, someone set up this google form (How Much Did #CXNATS Postponement Cost?) to try and get a grasp on what kind of actual numbers we are talking about.
As I was sitting on the plane, lamenting my position in missing both the races, I tried to figure out why I was so upset. I have missed cyclocross races before. What was it that made me feel like this one was such a big deal?
There was a quote from the ESPN 30 for 30 Film - Give Them What They Want that summed it up. We watched this film the night before the race was canceled and the line stuck with me. Journalist Mike Lupicia is in the car on the way home from Jimmy Connors near impossible comeback win at the 1991 US Open - and his wife turns to him and says "You know what - everyone in that stadium today feels like they helped Jimmy Connors win." And then Lupica has this mind boggling moment where he goes (something like) "you're absolutely right - and if you could sell that feeling, it is a ticket that every sports fan would buy."
And now I'm speaking for all the cyclocross fans when I say this — that is exactly why I want to go to these races. That is the ticket that cyclocross fans buy every weekend. The chance to stand inches away from the greatest in the world or at least your region - and cheer your heart out - or find some back corner where no one else is and urge them on with creepy whispers. Whatever you want to do.
So, now that I know why I do what I do, as a fan. I'm still trying to figure out what I learned about the sport as a whole here in the states? That it is too young and too small to make a difference to even a marginally progressive city? They do have fantastic bike paths. Or that it is just all out of my hands and I should be so lucky to have seen some fun bike races in my day? Either way, it sounds like we've still got a lot to learn. All of us.
Congratulations to the Richard Sachs Cyclocross team and everyone who stuck around, changed flights, stayed on couches, arranged meals for juniors and everything else that went in to making the weekend awesome.