Live streaming coverage, a plethora of web-based media outlets, and local Tweeters filling news feeds have crowded the consciousness of most dedicated cross fans over the past few days. The marquee events have come and gone, and rather than bore the COMO CYCO reader with yet another play-by-play, I’ll report on some personal observations.
Back in ’07 I attended the Motocross des Nations at Budds Creek, Maryland. Although the MdN had actually been on U.S. soil for the first time way back in 1987, it had a similar vibe to this year’s CX Worlds. By that, I mean it was unprecedented, and the “red, white, and blue” would get to showcase its version of the sport on a worldwide stage. Attending the CX Worlds reminded me of that weekend at Budds Creek—a truly international event, and a melting pot of diversity where the love of sport transcended nationality.
The pride of the host nation was outstanding, but equally impressive were the supporters from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. What struck me as odd, however, was that the foreign supporters were, more often than not, non-racer/riders. Bicycle racing is to Belgian fans what football and baseball are to us. It’s their national sport, something to spectate but not necessarily do. It wasn’t uncommon to spot a graying, overweight fan smoking a cig.
Furthermore, most of the foreign contingent seemed to be concerned only with the placing of “their” rider. With the Americans going bananas nonstop, the more complacent euro fan would watch in silence until a particular rider of his or her choosing rode past, and only then would squeak out a simple “hup-hup.”
Much has been said about the venue, and I believe it worked pretty well. Although parking was nonexistent, I’m sure finding a park within walking distance of the very downtown of a major metro is probably pretty hard. So in reality it was not an issue.
I’m not sure if Euro cross races are an excuse to have a costume party, but in the good ol’ United States it is. Unicorns, hot dogs, Uncle Sams, and even a number two pencil adorned the Para course. Nothing was off limits.
I’ll close with a happy ending: As we were leaving the hotel, the biggest CX fan I know told us about how he’d been carrying around a Ryan Trebon USGP jersey since ’07, trying to get it signed by the man himself. Bummed that another opportunity had passed, he stuffed the jersey back in his luggage.
We left the building, piled in the van, and stopped a few blocks away for a CoMo crew member to grab a latte at Panera. Within moments, the unmistakable lanky stature of Trebon appeared on the sidewalk with his girlfriend in hand. I jumped out of the van to flag him down for an autograph, as the CX MegFan dug feverishly for the USGP jersey. After being asked for his signature, Ryan gave a halfhearted “sure,” clearly wanting to head to breakfast rather than deal with us. But when presented with the jersey he wore 5+ years ago, his attitude quickly changed, ecstatic that someone out there was a true follower. Ryan, the true professional, proclaimed his adoration of his fans and wanted to know where we were from and if we were headed back. A moment to remember for sure.