‘Cross purposes

The off-camber bit, which had about two "good" lines.

The off-camber bit, which had about two “good” lines.

If you’re anywhere near Boulder this weekend, get thee to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships at Valmont Park.

It’s been a good long while since I attended nats, either as a racer or a rumormonger, but my brief inspection tour of the 2014 circuit left me seriously impressed with how course design has improved in my absence. (It may help to have a cycling-specific park in which to host one’s event; I was never so fortunate.)

Express elevator to Hell, going down!

Express elevator to Hell, going down!

There’s a little something for everyone on the rolling circuit — run-ups on stairs and in mud; a sand pit; scary, sloppy descents; bumpy, steeply off-camber bits; a whole bunch of cornering; and on Thursday, anyway, lots of slippery goo. A “heavy” course, in other words. Pete Webber did a fine job setting it up, and then went on to win today’s masters 40-44 race. Chapeau.

I watched a couple of masters events — women 40-44 and men 50-54 — and caught up with an old racing rival, Mike Spak (at right in this photo). He finished 25th in the 60-64s and said that first trip down the mudslide was a doozy. A Slip’N Slide full of extended legs, chainrings and cursing, I bet. I would’ve been one of the dudes making the most noise, what with white knuckles exploding on brake levers, explosive bowel evacuations and ear-splitting screams.

The descent leads to a long staircase run followed by an off-camber plummet reminiscent of Satan’s descent from Heaven:

Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky,

With hideous ruin and combustion, down

To bottomless perdition. …

OK, maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but there were only two lines and both of them looked like Hell to me.

The rest of the course basically heaps insult atop injury, with another short staircase run, a sand pit and lots of little bits of this, that and the other, all of which add up to being nibbled to death by zombie ducks.

Word is it’s windy out there today, with temps in the 50s, and Webber told Cyclocross Magazine that it was “a dry and fast course.” If the weather holds, tomorrow should be even more so.

If you can’t make it there in person, you can catch live streaming video of the marquee events starting with the U23 race at 12:30 p.m. Mountain time today.

• Late update: If you missed the live stream, what you missed was largely a one-man show, a wire-to-wire ass-whuppin’ administered by first-year U23 Logan “See Ya, Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya” Owen. You can catch a replay at USA Cycling’s YouTube channel. But the part everyone is talking about is his teammate Cody Kaiser’s riding — hopping, actually — of the Belgian Stairs. Watch and enjoy.

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5 Responses to “‘Cross purposes”

  1. Andy Bohlmann Says:

    I’m driving up tomorrow and I’ll be one more person in the crowd… bringing the total up to two.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Should be quite a gang up there, Mr. B … just walk straight out of the parking lot, amble past the sheriff’s, hop the fence and you’ll be right atop the Descent of Doom. They sell beer on site, but I don’t know about that other stuff the teevee people have been going on and on about lately.

      • Andy Bohlmann Says:

        I’m to meet with KMC Chain rep who has some other potential sponsor for me to meet.

        One beer is my limit when I have to drive these days and not sure about that other stuff.

        I’m now officially “retired” (instead of just “tired”?) and got my first Social Security deposits the other day.

  2. John O Says:

    Old Mike Spak! Did you scheck him?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      No … but I did sneak up on him, tap him on the shoulder and say, “You suck!”

      Speaking of getting schenked, I hear you had the bird flu. Been kissing the Colonel again? I’ve warned you before, you don’t know where that nasty ol’ drumstick of his has been.

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