A lot can happen in four days, a couple of thousand of the best cyclocross racers grouped into 37 categories with 24 races all conveniently converging in my hometown, how awesome is that? Kansas City has now hosted the National Cyclocross Championships 3 times and now twice in the last two years. Each race was as important as the elite race, everyone from the youngest junior racer to the oldest of the masters put everything on the line trying to take home the stars and stripes jersey, knowing they are the best in the nation.
A trip to the Port-O-John turned into the most exciting moment of the four days. I was finishing up after taking care of business and the door swings open, I frantically try to try to grab the door so not to expose myself to everyone waiting in line, as I glance up to see who is trying to get into my disgusting plastic throne room it turns to be Katie Compton, who soon will become the 2008 Women’s US National Chamion. I didn’t know what to do, quickly pull up my pants so not to expose myself or ask for an autograph, stupidly I pull up my pants. We both realized the lock as broken, she apologized and patiently waited her turn. I zip up, exit and she hops in to finish getting dressed only a few minutes before the call-ups for the women’s elite race.
You would think one of the worlds best CX racers would have a better place to get dressed than a dirty, stinking port-a-potty, just like people do at local races. As she emerged I ask her if I could get a quick photo, only to discover the cold weather has played havoc with the batteries and the camera won’t work. We share a quick laugh as she finishes zipping up her skinsuit and heads down to the staging area for her call-up. I’m sure she would agree, it truly was a special moment we shared in that stinking portable toilet, I know it was for me.
Aside from my bathroom rondevux with Katie Compton the most memorable event would have to be the conditions themselves. Last years championships were marked forever with some of the worst conditons ever seen at the National Championships, snow and ice storms and sub zero temps plagued all four days of racing. It looked like we might be in for some nasty weather the proceeding weeks to this years races as well, even a snow storm on the days proceeding the start of this years championships. Whatever snow we had melted early the first day of racing, turning the course into pure mud. Plus, it was a very fan friendly set up, very easy to get around without having to cross the course all the time.
Eventually the course began to dry out leaving it fast and tacky and seemed to be entirely up hill. I know that’s not possible, but once you rode it you would understand. Brutally long up hill sections with very few places to catch your breath, a course built for power and endurance. All the while airliners scream overhead taking off or landing at nearby KCI.
The instantaneous 30 degree temperature drop Sunday morning was bizarre and unwelcome. One second it’s 60 degrees, a second later 30. By the time I got home the temperature had plunged over 50+ degrees and was in the middle of a blinding snowstorm with a winter weather advisory. Good luck getting your flight out Sunday night. Many people were caught totally unaware, showing up in shorts and a light jacket, who would have guess the forecast could have been so wrong. However it was still better than 2007s snow and ice fest.
The women’s collegiate field was caught a terrible situation, the race started in the 60’s and finished in viscous winds and temps in the 30’s. Lot’s of bare legs and short sleeve kits, exposed skin by the end was a painful looking bright red. Sorry ladies. It makes me cold just to thinking of it. Midwestern weather, if you don’t like it, wait a day and it will change.
Watching the elite races was awe inspiring and completely frustrating. Their fitness levels are so beyond anything I could ever approach and make every action look so easy. They seem to be going as fast on the last lap as they were on the first, navigating the barriers and run-ups like they were not even there. It also brings out the element that I feel makes cyclocross so unique, a circus like atmosphere. You have the people who show up in shark costumes dragging around a full keg of beer and a couch, the shirtless guys with rainbow wigs wearing Jeremy Powers stickers like pasties and guys in drag. There are piles of empty beer cans and bottles of liquor everywhere, cow bells ringing, people screaming at the racers and the ones offering up beer and cigarettes as people race by. It’s even better when they stop and slam the beer before jumping back on the bike frantically chasing after everyone who passed them while they were drinking a beer. And bumping into the elite racers who are just hanging out before and after their races. I think I stepped on Georgia Gould’s foot after the elite mens race as we are walking through the expo tent on the way to the car. Sorry Georgia, for stepping on your foot and probably saying something really stupid too.
Weekend check list.
- Nearly exposing myself to US Women’s Champion Katie Compton. Check.
- Have my camera malfunction and not get a photo or autograph with Katie Compton. Check.
- Step on Georgia Gould’s foot and say something dumb. Check.
- Get a high five from US Men’s Champion Ryan Trebon as he nears the finish line. Check.
- Wear a suit and tie to a bike race. Check.
- Talk a friend into wearing one too. Check.
- Have Larry Rosa take a kick ass photograph of myself. Check.
- Wait too long to register for my race and find that the window has closed. Check.
- Bring my bike with me anyway and ride the course. Check.
- Drink too much, shout idiotic things to racers, and ring a cowbell while doing both. Check, check and check.
- Stay out ’til 3 am drinking with the guys from Mafia Racing. Check.
- Meeting all of the cyclocross people I’ve only seen on the internet or Cyclocross Magazine. Check.
- Will I miss not having the championship race in KC again for the next however many years. Check.
- Repeatedly update this post because I keep finding numerous typos and grammatical errors. Check.
Looks like I’ll be headed out of town next December, Oregon perhaps?