Yesterday I made it to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships that Team Sports is putting on at Badger Prairie Park in Verona. Between the unseasonably nice weather and the photo-friendly venue, all I can say is,”wow.”
I didn’t get a chance to ride the course, but from a photographer’s perspective, there isn’t a bad sight line to be found on the open, rolling course. The day started with frozen ground and some icy patches. As the day progressed, the sun warmed the ground, and the frozen dirt turned to mud.
Cyclocross racers are well known for their affinity for getting dirty. While most bike racing involves team buses, hotels and pristinely clean drive trains, cyclocross is marked yurts, camper vans and the pressure washing stations.
Yesteday’s racing was for the Masters class. It began with the men’s 70+ category and went down to Female 40-44. I will be turning 50 at the end of February this year, and seeing seniors out there tearing up the course helped me hold on to the illusion that while cycling may not be the fountain of youth, it can help me stave off many of the traditional signs of old age.
Today’s racing is for the juniors, many of whom I saw practice riding the course with their parents yesterday between races. Seeing 12-year-olds grinding up the muddy hills on ‘cross bikes also gave me hope for the future. Maybe electronic gaming will not turn all of our children into couch potatoes.
If you don’t have big plans for this weekend, the racing continues through Sunday. I suggest you make the trip to Verona to catch some of the exciting, muddy action. The hilly, but open course is great for spectating, there are great food vendors at the event, and you might just find yourself buying a cyclocross bike for next season to get in on the fun. I know I’m considering filling that open slot in my stable.