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Field Notes: Louisville 2013
All photos by J. Dunn
"I can honestly say, I've never raced anything like that before. The sound and amount of people cheering for me was what kept me going."
– Gabby Day, Rapha-FOCUS
The thing most foreign racers and spectators commented on at the World Cyclocross Championships in Louisville, Kentucky last week, was the noise. A wall of sound that accompanied riders through the slippery corners, sand and slick run-ups. Kentucky has earned its place in the cyclocross hall of fame, first for being the only location outside of Europe to host the ‘Worlds’ and secondly, for its noise. Cyclocross in the US has a curious reputation, especially when held up against its European counterparts. There’s a misconception that we don't take our cyclocross as seriously as they do in the cross motherland.
The Belgians have always been the toughest critics of US cross. However, it should be noted that this criticism is based mostly on our race results in that country. It will come as no surprise that the home crowds last weekend wished to push the Belgians (and other European racers) out of their comfort zones and give the US riders a fighting chance. OK, so we can’t win everything, even by bringing the battle into our own backyard, but we can still go out of our way to make a good show of it, to be the best sporting neighbours we can be. As soon as the guns went off, we all just became crazed, screaming fans, some of us literally foaming at the mouth.
Chants and shouts would vary from lap to lap. Sometimes, a distinct “USA, USA” was all that could be heard. At other times, the steady crescendo of fans shouting at maximum volume followed the front of the race around the course like a wave.
"This isn't what we expected would happen."
– Belgian race fan at the bar
There were a good number of Belgian spectators at the hotel bar later that night (and all the next day) who were more than excited to talk to anyone about their trip and reasons for coming to watch the races in the US.
"Sure, we knew that Sven Nys would probably win, but we didn't know that there would be so many people here watching. That it would be so loud."
It was a sentiment that was echoed again and again, by racer and spectator alike. But, the noise wasn't the only thing going on last weekend. To get caught up in only the Elite racing would be like trying to eat your dessert first. The fine people of the bicycle industry all banded together to make the weekend more than just another weekend of bicycle racing. This is where we can let our true community shine when it comes to the world stage.
For starters, there was a single-speed race in the dark of the night and the Belgian TV commentators had no idea what to make of it. To complement this show of homegrown culture, the Louisville Slugger factory teamed up with Oakley and opened their doors to some of the athletes and created a hide and seek baseball-bat-hunt around the city. There were Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery tours and more than a few fantastic meals in Louisville's bustling restaurant scene (treat yourself to Rye if you are in the area). Component manufacturer Chris King hosted a night at local bicycle boutique On Your Left Cycles. And there was also the awesome Grimpeur Bros pop up coffee shop inside a hotel room to get your caffeine fix before the start of the race. Plus, if you have ever had the desire to see the best cross riders in the world waiting in line for a 'foam party' (there was no foam) then Louisville was the place to be.
In fact, it seemed that everyone in the US bicycle industry was on hand to celebrate the occasion and every fan that says they love the sport more than anything put their money in the right spot to make it happen. The people that are behind cyclocross — the ones who pull the course tape themselves and re-landscape the local park down the street. Racers who pin numbers on their friends and always wait around to see every race. They all came out to make the UCI World Championships in Louisville Kentucky the momentous occasion that it was.
Extra links to check out:
Tenspeed Hero: Belgians and Stairs and 'Murica
Emily Maye Photography: CX World Championships
Chris King Buzz Blog: Danny Summerhill's Take on Worlds
VeloNews: Despite Hiccups, Louisville 2013 a Success
- @Jack_Sadler @raphacondor We’re honoured to have you riding for us Jack.
- RT @dean0downing: I had 6 great seasons with the @raphacondor team, thanks to all at @rapharacing for the support through out. http://t.co/…
- @dean0downing @raphacondor Thank you Dean, it’s been an incredible journey.
- Eeny meeny miny moe. Aka Sean, Freddy, Roger and Francesco. If like me you can't decide which one of… http://t.co/o5b8KuTdCX
- Buying for the obsessive cyclist can be an impossible task. The kit has to be right, but what do you choose? → http://t.co/78RaFQ810G
- RT @raphacondor: 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http:…
- RT @rapha_australia: It's time for #alpedquiz question two. "WHERE DID RICHIE PORTE FINISH ON STAGE 18 OF THE 2013 TOUR?" Answer at http://…
- The #oneoftheseplease wk 3 includes some outdoor products from the likes of @polerstuff - Kletterwerks - and Filson: http://t.co/SG3aSEcjxN
- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/11e5ZxOdoC
- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/TfWWoTG1ge