The athlete factor.
We’ve got a lot of them here, folks, and I’m not referring to the arm-chair types who play a little softball on occasion. I mean the hard-core, outdoorsy ones who climb and ski and run and bike and kayak. Who aren’t breathing unless they’re breathing hard. Who buy their apparel at Jax and drive Subarus with at least one big friendly dog in the back.
I am not one of those people. I think the athlete gene in my family gene pool dried up generations ago. I do love the outdoors, and I like to ride my bike and hike and walk my own big friendly dog. But I’m not very competitive, and I’ve never trained for much of anything. (I have, however, carbo-loaded on more than a few regrettable occasions.)
But my general wimpiness doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate watching serious athletes do their stuff, which is why I went to see Saturday’s women’s elite race of the Greenware U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. The 2010 Gran Prix is a four-weekend, eight-race series including The Planet Bike Cup in Madison, WI; The Derby City Cup in Louisville, KY; our own New Belgium Cup; and The Stanley Portland Cup in Portland, OR. (Kudos to New Belgium and our community for bringing this event to town.)
Being unfamiliar with Cyclocross, I was glad I learned a little beforehand, namely that (from the USGP website) “Cyclocross is a fall/winter, on-road/off-road cycling discipline held on a looped circuit of approximately 1-2 miles. Cyclocross racers navigate mud, sand, pavement, grass, gravel, pasture, and mulch. When the terrain is too steep to ride or they are confronted by a standard set of wooden barriers, riders dismount, shoulder their bikes and run.”
They shoulder their bikes and run? Really?
The track was muddy, the gray sky spit out the occasional snowflake, and the temps were in the low 40s. From what I gather, those were perfect conditions for Cyclocross. Even though I was a newbie, I had a great time hanging out with a thousand or so cycling fans (and some big friendly dogs) and cheering on the riders. The event was free, and the competition was truly world-class. But I do wish I would have thought to bring my cowbell.
Visit the Coloradoan Photo Gallery for many excellent photos of the races.