Since the announcement a couple of years ago that the World Championship of cyclocross would be coming to the U.S., it was on my radar to attend. So, plans were made and a group of us set out to watch history unfold. A World Cup cyclocross race has never been held on American soil let alone the World Championship. We planned on spending the weekend watching racing events on both Saturday and Sunday. However, the Ohio River had different plans. Apparently a group of scientists monitored the level of the river and announced the race course at Eva Bandman Park would be flooded on Sunday so all events were moved to Saturday, which included the women’s and elite men’s race.
As Rick Plite, Dennis Murphy, Pete Hall, Martin Hall and myself loaded the van and headed off we realized Martin didn’t bring his bike as there wasn’t enough room. We had epic plans of riding our bikes to the race across some pedestrian bridge. However, Martin graciously offered to drive the car to the race so we had a place to warm up if needed.
On our way down, we made a pit stop at Dark Horse Brewery to sample some of their Crooked Tree and Double Crooked Tree. This short stop saved us from getting stuck in traffic in Indy and we sailed smoothly all the way to our hotel thanks to Martin’s expert driving.
With traffic looking heavy into the city, we partook in a quick Centennial and an hour later took a secret passage into the city to visit a local brewery called, Against the Grain. This establishment proved to be the hot spot and Rick managed to meet the owner of DeFeet. Look for his band at the Barry Roubaix!!!
The next morning started off as you might imagine and we made it to the race a little later than anticipated. It’s a good thing we couldn’t fit Martin’s bike as we all road in the warm, comfortable van. At least the bikes looked cool on the Odyssey.
The course was a bit confusing standing near the entrance. One couldn’t really ascertain how the course flowed but one thing was for sure, it was very technical and European. The morning started off with snow but this would change throughout the day. We managed to get a good spot for the junior race and watched kids under 18 hop off their bikes and run up a set of limestone stairs.
An American named Logan Owen managed to make the race interesting and battled all the way up to third throughout the race. The crowd was roaring every time he came through and even though he just missed the podium it started the day off right. The Women’s race also had an American favored to medal. Katy F’ing Compton had battled Marianne Vos throughout the World Cup season and it seemed it would come down to the two of them. Again, the course was primarily frozen and seemed fast.
We moved spots to watch the women snake around a fence before making a ninety degree turn. We were so close to the racers their bars could have touched our hands on the fencing. Marianne Vos brought her A-game and ended up riding at the front the whole race. After a tough start, Katy charged the field and ended up taking second!! As the U23 race started, the course was starting to soften and the lines for food, beer and bathrooms grew larger.
Somehow the organizers or the UCI dropped the ball in getting enough vendors for food and beer. Rumor was it had something to do with businesses having enough insurance. Whatever the reason, it sucked. Some spectators waited throughout entire hour long races simply to go to the bathroom or get some grub. Next time this type of event comes to America, they better call up the promoter of Kisscross, Lumberjack and Barry Roubaix as he obviously knows how to put on a fan-friendly race. By the time the men’s elite race started, the entire race course was peanut butter.
Right off the bat it seemed like a race between the Dutch and Belgiums. American Jonathan Page road well throughout the first half of the race but slipped back after a mechanical. Behind the Barriers star, Jeremy Powers, never seemed comfortable in the conditions and road mid-pack throughout the race. A few laps later we moved to the woods to again watch the pros dismount after a steep downhill to climb the cement stairs.
The riders’ line was so close to where we were standing behind the fence that the mud from their wheels hit us. The race ended up coming down to Klaas Vantornout’s pedal getting stuck in the fencing at the top of the hill we were watching from. It was incredible to watch Sven Nys power through the course on his way to winning his second title. The European riders definitely have an edge when it comes to cross. From the fans who traveled across the pond, to the support crew in the pit lane, they definitely have this cross thing figured out. America has a ways to go if they want to catch up to their level of cross.
After standing in a line to use the facility for a half hour, we packed up and headed back to our hotel. The trip finished with an after party hosted by SRAM. Apparently there was a foam party where all racers were supposed to show up. However, we managed to hang out with a group of Michiganders all night and drink good beer for free. We ended up getting some spicy tacos from a truck outside our hotel and called it a day. Not a bad way to finish a great trip.