This was the first time in it’s 64 year history that the Cyclocross World Championships would be held outside of Europe. So it was kind of a big deal to be having it in the U.S. Kind of a REALLY big deal to be exact. Fans poured in from across the U.S. and Europe to the somewhat unlikely location of Louisville, KY to witness cycling history and cheer the best riders in the world.
Friday morning, chaos erupted. The race schedule needed to be changed as the course would likely be underwater by early Sunday morning. While ‘cross is certainly a rain, shine, snow, mud, ice, sleet, hail sort of event, flood water is kind of a deal breaker. After everyone got over the shock of all races being scheduled for Saturday and accepted the fact that two days worth of beer would need to be consumed in one, life went back to normal.
Saturday morning, we awoke to about an inch of snow. This was going to be awesome. After breakfast, we walked about 2 miles to the venue, breezed in through the VIP line, and checked out the course a bit before the first race. Throughout the day, we saw people we knew everywhere. I hardly felt like I was 500 miles from home. MABRA racers were fully representing, and that was only the people I recognized.
At 9:45 the Junior’s race went off. The venue was already filling up, and the crowd was ready. Logan Owen started working his way up towards the podium and the crowd was going wild. This was the point where what was happening was really starting to sink in. This was the World Championship and the Americans had their country lining the course to cheer them on. It was something that just would not happen in Europe for these riders. As the lead junior went by with his large lead the crowd cheered, but as the first American began nipping at the podium, the crowd went crazy. It was so very cool that I honestly had to hold back tears. A slight mechanical lost Owen a few seconds, and probably 3rd place.
The women were up next. Unlike other disciplines of cycling, there are women who are about as famous as the men. Marianne Vos has been said to be one of the greatest cyclists of all time, and not just for women, for anyone. And does someone nick-named Katie F’n Compton really need an explanation? I don’t think so. So anyway, I was super geeked out to get to see them race. We decided to watch at the barriers where we were able to access a VIP viewing area. While we could see really well, it was not nearly as exciting as watching near the off-camber and run-up sections where we were before with most of the crowd.
Marianne Vos gapped the field like they were barely even pedaling and won by a huge margin. Katie Compton had a bad first lap with mechanicals and traffic but made her way up to second and finished with the silver. This made her the first American to finish on the podium at the Cyclo-Cross World Championship. Katie F’n Compton.
The Under 23 race went by as kind of a blur, but the intensity of the crowd was definitely increasing. The compressed schedule made the day go by very quickly and it was soon time for the elite men. At this point, I started to realize that the place was PACKED. The spectator costumes were also starting to get more extreme and include less clothing in a few cases. We snagged a spot on the rail for the start and got splattered in mud as the elite men charged by. We bounced around to some different spots to watch, and headed to the bleachers for the finish.
The Foam Party
And then there is the Foam Party. The party that started as a joke on twitter and turned into a real party. A party where Jeremy Powers might DJ and arrive via helicopter. It was clear that none of my friends really felt like going. I was so tired that I barely escaped falling asleep on my hamburger at dinner, but I still wanted to go. My husband decided to humor me, so we headed over. When we arrived at 9:30 the line was stretching the entire way down the block and was only getting longer. I have a thing about waiting in line to get into bars, I don’t do it. It was also really cold. So reluctantly, we walked back to the hotel. The foam party still managed to be epic even without me. Jeremy Powers did in fact DJ, the bar ran out of beer, the ATM ran out of money, and the distributor ran out of Heineken. The new World Champion Sven Nys had to wait in line, and according to the bouncer, his entrance was greeted by more cheers than Michael Phelps when he was in town for the Kentucky Derby. This should not be a surprise, as it takes about 2 seconds to figure out that cross is at least 100 time cooler than swimming.
On Sunday morning I woke up to the realization that ‘Cross Worlds were over. Having all the races packed into one day felt a little like opening all your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. I think I am slipping into post-cross worlds depression, which will be followed by official end of season depression. However, watching the races was seriously motivating. 8 more months.