Disclaimer- I don’t want to sound like I’m slamming on the guys who are sacrificing their Saturday morning to put on a race for the cycling community. This event was more of a culmination of my overall frustration at the general attitude of 90% of Memphis Cyclists that cyclocross is just some silly obstacle course that doesn’t really matter. There’s a USA Cycling rule book with course guidelines. There’s a USA Cycling official at the race. There are a few very experienced, very accomplished cyclocross racers in town who would be happy to help create a great cyclocross course. With the exception of the Outdoors Inc cyclocross race in a couple of weeks, none of those resources are being implemented by the people putting on any of the races in Memphis (not just the guys running this race).
Saturday’s course was frustrating because some parts of the course were just dangerous. The worst was a loose-over hard sharp gravel downhill sweeper into an amphitheater. It was badly washed out, bumpy, and edgy with deep grass hiding more piles of loose gravel and holes near the bottom. I was at a loss- there was also broken glass and other spots on course rooty enough that I would’t have been surprised to see at least one broken handlebar or cracked rim at any point during the races. Most of the guys I talked to gave me the, “you’re a pro mountain biker, why are you so worried?” line. Ya know, maybe that means I value the well-being of myself and my equipment more than others…
Maybe I just want to see cyclocross- a sport which I love very much- taken a little more seriously.
Luckily for everyone, Matt showed up with a shovel and rake. He was able to at least knock the sharp edges off of the washouts and make one slightly less sketchy line through it. Despite my frustrations, I raced hard and got in some good training. I’ve been working hard on my pacing this season, and this time, I kept all of my lap times within 10 seconds of each other.
Moving on to something much better, and much more important…
I was considering the possibility of driving to Little Rock after the race on Saturday to race a night race and a Sunday morning race. However, I decided I wanted to stick around for something 100x more rewarding than any personal pursuit of training or racing- the Tennessee High School Cycling League mountain bike race at Herb Parson’s Lake.
A while back, Chad Terry (owner of Bike World, purveyor of Nimblewear USA, and coach of the Collierville HS MTB Team) contacted me about getting help with volunteer collecting for the upcoming race. I posted here and everywhere else on the internet and contacted Gu about getting some volunteer schwag to encourage locals to help out.
Matt and I drove out to the trail yesterday morning and worked as course marshals during the girls’ race.
When I saw the girl leading the varsity race pass by, it made me teary-eyed.
…as did watching many of the other racers. I can’t express how happy/warm/fuzzy it makes me to see young women racing their hearts out. It was just such a wonderful experience to help support people who are encouraging more kids to get out in the woods and compete. If you ever get a chance to even just watch a high school event in your area, I’d highly recommend it. Though, it’s even more fun if you get involved.