For me, #2013Louisville started in earnest last night- Thursday- with several activities, the first of which was the Raleigh Singlespeed 'Cross Derby which took place at Seneca Park near the house. I got a late start so only arrived for the second half, but it was just an amazing, fun bike experience. The course followed parts of the previously used short-track mtbike course, and although these cats were all on single speeds, both 'cross and other, it was just nuts, balls-out riding interspersed with bourbon shots, flames, disco balls, music, crazy fans. Did I say it was just plain, ol' fun? The 'Ville 'cross scene tends to be quite serious, hence our ability to host both USGP and Worlds, but this was the first time that a local race reminded me of the nutty stuff you see out of PDX or SF. It ended there-of so I moved on to Event 2.
A look at the venue. The ominous lights (and lack thereof) and blowing snow made it all the more amazing.
A look down a road I travel 2-3 a week, only this time filled with cyclists of all stripes and sobriety.
Although I have no pics, #2 was every bit as cool, in this case a presentation at Molly Malone's by Vin Cox, the one-time holder of the fastest bicycle circumnavigation, as of 2010. I missed the first part, during which he specifically discussed his 2010 trip. We (Dave, Timothy, and I) had a few beers and a good talk with Vin about touring in England. The second half of his presentation dealt more with motivation, camping, and new aspirations. I found him to be very down-to-earth and approachable. We bade him and the remainders adios and headed towards Event #3, the SSCX after-party at Against-the-Grain downtown, which for Dave and me meant a 7-mile-ish ride down.
We exited Molly's to find a fair amount of snow on our bikes and temps that had fallen pretty drastically in the hour or so I was there. For me at least, the next 30 minutes or whatev might have been the coldest I've ever had on a bike, with temps in the upper-10s but with a nasty wind kicking from the west. Yes, straight headwind with wind chills around 0F. And the sleet and snow too. It was pretty crazy, really. We finally arrived at AtG to find a packed house in full drunk, with music, giveaways (ending as we arrived) and lots of networking. It was fun to talk to a variety of different folks from the different cycling tribes in 'Ville, much like the SSCX as a race. Eventually we enjoyed watching the bike polo crew getting tossed for drinking bourbon and misplacing some beer glasses. Oops! At some point we left and headed for B'town (with a tailwind and lower temps at around 13F) where I peeled off for home. I topped it all by hitting a patch of black ice while turning into my street and fell directly on my knee, which now has an attractive knot. I'm old and it hurts. Great night, though.
Day 2 began with me putting the studded tires on the Troll. The knee is stiff and the thigh bruise tender, so I want to leave nothing to chance. I'm old! I'm weak! I decided to take in some Masters' racing at the Champions section first, not, actually second.
First I passed through the Worlds venue to look around a bit. Nothing too dramatic, just a bit of fun.
The organizers have pissed off every Belgian born since '21 by moving the Sunday mass events to Saturday due to flooding potential. Here are some efforts to keep the river at bay a bit.
southern/high ground portion of course with numerous camera stands
The somewhat famous, off-camber turn. Interesting that the thickness of the mud has allowed for a furrow, as you can see. Perhaps it will be easier than the women had in the USGranPrix in the Fall.
A rather impressive stable of Moots 'cross bikes at the Shimano tent. I found out later that Shimano was giving out free winter hats. Bummer. Didn't get one.
This is a comparable look down River Rd. towards the finish as I took earlier in the week. There seems to be more activity now than there was then. Lots more.
After that stroll I made my way down to the Masters' races, and I really enjoyed what I saw. The course was a total mess, and as I piloted the Troll over the spongy, frozen, dense crud below I couldn't even imagine the difficulty of racing in such conditions on 32s. My first stop was at a muddy downhill made fun by the "will he or wont' he" expectation of crashing. Many more stayed on course than I expected.
|This guy is from Spain. Venga!!!|
I made my way back towards the big venue but was thwarted, as the course was closed for official training. I stealthily used the "underpass" method to briefly get back in- to my chagrin not near the Shimano tent- and take in a couple more minutes before needing to head home to take the wife out. I'm not sure I got the necessary info on entry, bike parking, beer location, frites, or schwag, but it was a worthy couple hours of Worlds 'cross action.
And tomorrow- ALL DAY TOMORROW- is the main event.
Numerous Belgians discussing what tire combos to use to eek out a Cat6 commuter win vs. one Timothy Smith come Monday. Fucker has no chance.
|Another view of the sand wall using large leaf bags. No wonder they moved things to Saturday.|
I'm pretty sure this is Francis Mourey of France, who is a well-known 'cross and road cyclist. What's funny is that on his ascent here of this hill, his rear tire slipped just a bit. He dismounted and looked and the spot with the look on his face as though, "How dare you piece of shit mud make my tire slip!", incredulous. This is shortly before the turn onto the finishing straight. A slip here could lose the race or a medal spot.
Tomorrow is the main event, with racing from 9.30 to 2.30, four races in all. And afterwards, the parties begin (or continue, right?). I hope to have many pics, but at 22F and with a small point-in-shoot, pix taking isn't that much fun.