Friday, September 19, 2014

The Early Days of Cyclocross

It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since I started racing cyclo-cross.  There were not many events to participate in so I made what I consider now an unwise decision to promote an event myself.  That first CrossLogic Cyclocross Challenge was a great learning experience. I worked my butt off to gain permission and create a new event.  A special Thank You goes out to Mark Thomas for lending a hand.  Now I know one reason why he was so helpful back then.  He just wanted to race.
It is hard to believe it but Kansas City grew to be the hotbed of cross in the early 2000's to well we will not go there.....  We had riders regularly coming down from Iowa & Nebraska because St. Louis' cyclocross scene hadn't developed yet.

This might have been one of my worst ideas ever.  A team relay cross race.  I actually thought it would work and that riders would like to race as a team.  I think we only had like 4 teams at the most participate. 
After a couple of good years in Parkville we got kicked out due politics basically.  The BOA were fighting with my key contact for the use of English Landing Park and when it came time to vote to allow our race again we were denied. 
I spent many hours (months really)  searching for a new venue that would I felt make a good cyclocross course.  I had access to a lot of parks which I could of used, but I was not going to use just any park.  I did not want to build just any course.  I wanted my courses to be fun and challenging.  It took many visits to Riverside's City Hall and a couple of presentation but I finally found a good venue in E. H Young Park. 

Every fall my team, family and I would work hard to produce what we thought were good cyclocross courses.  One of my all time favorite sections was the climb out of the river at E.H. Young.  If you were able to ride it (like me above) it was a nice advantage.  Plus is just sucks getting off your bike. 

I always like to put in a wide variety of terrain in my courses.  Sure it was not easy to build these courses, but that is what I felt all the racers deserved.  I made natural obstacles and rarely used things like barriers to force riders to discount.  My belief is to make a challenging and fun course that does not offer an unfair advantage but is best suited to an all around rider.  It did not matter if can from a mountain bike back ground or a road back ground.  You would going to enjoy my course.  Well, at least I hope you all enjoyed them.
 Damian looking good as always.  I think Damian my be the only person who has raced all of the races I have ever promoted.  Does he like my courses that well or is it the free entries?
The Riverside Cyclocross Festival was always held very close to Carolynn's birthday.  In fact, the race even fell on the actual day.   Never did she ever say anything about celebrating her birthday at the race.  Roger Harrison sings Happy Birthday and brough her a cake!

Why on earth did I ever decide to put sand into my courses?  Back then I thought they were cool, but now I just hate sand.  Funny how life works some times.

I guess I got insperation from my first state championship event I ever attended over in Columbia, MO.  Christopher in route to his first ever state championship in cyclocross.  One thing that kid can do is ride sand and rocks for that matter. 
I might have to bring back the beard.  Or maybe at least the chops

That little junior Redline CX bike was sweet.  Christopher earned a closet full of trophies and awardes on that thing.

He won so many that the Kansas City Star even wrote an article on him.  Those were the days....

10 years ago I was all focused on growing the sport especially the juniors.  Looking back I now realize I put a lot of pressure on Christopher without really know it.  That is one thing I would do differently now is to try and keep cycling more fun.

Back to sand.  I have to mention it again because I do really hate it (unless I am riding a motorcycle in it then I just love it)  Sand can be very challenging as you can see by the above picture taken at the  2006 Riverside Cyclocross Festivals.  

I still remember this poor beginner women's cyclocross racers.  She was a trooper and got up and finished strong.  Heck, she even showed up at the next round of the series and paid to race again.

This guy had an awesome handmade bike and he could ride that thing on that Riverside course.  I do miss those old courses and the cool features they had. 

One of my favorite pictures I ever took. Nate in action - they dude could bunny-hop just about anything. 
I can not tell you how much time I put in just to build this one feature.  When I look at most of  today's cyclocross courses I realize just how foolish I was.  Thinking that riders actually cared about the course.
I always like Shadd Smith. He came to most of our events and for many years took home the win in the Cat 1 class.
Mark Studnicki and I traveled to a lot of cyclocross races together for a few years there.  He was one hell of an athlete.   Those were some fun times traveling up to Iowa and Nebraska racing cross.
I was actually in good shape back when racing with Mark and won the Mid-America Cross Cup back in 2004/5 when John Lefler and I promoted it.
The money tree idea was a hit.  At the height of the De Stad Series it was nice feature.  Christopher (during his X-Box years) demonstrates good form.  He only wanted the dollar to buy another game...
I did really enjoy racing cyclocross back then.  Who know, maybe I can regain that passion this year.
Dave looking good in the mud.  One of the best parts of cyclocross is your teammates and the fun times you can have together.   Those good memories will last forever.
I can still remember this battle between Tige Lamb and Mark Studnicki back in 2009.  The final round of the De Stad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series (still love that name) and it was a cold rainy day.  The course was just getting slick and very hard to even ride.  These guys went at it hard and put on a awesome show.  I think Studnicki was a little stronger, but Tige was better in the mud.  It came down the the last lap with Tige Lamb taking the win and title.

That final round in 2009 was epic for me. Everything came together for just a great day. Racing in the mud is what cyclo-cross is all about.  Only wish we had more of those types of events.

We always tried to make the course look as good as possible with the limited resources that we had. 
Some of the best barriers ever.   Even though I did not like to use them, Rich Anderson build up a cool set so I just could not say no.  JP Brocket demonstrates proper form.
One of the most challenging events to hold was one of the Kansas State Cyclocross races held over in Leavenworth Kansas.  There was talk about endangering the riders and  travel concerns.  All I knew is I could not drive any stakes into the frozen ground and had to resort to cones.  It worked and no one died traveling to the venue.
Still to this day one of the best logos ever. Eric Tiffany always came up with some very good ideas and helped us out more than he know.  The logo was great, but the idea to also hold a trail run on the same day as a cyclocross race was not.

This picture brings back a lot of memories.  It is actually at the first Haven's Cyclocross event which is retuning this weekend.  Hopefully Brendan has a course for us with a lot less climbing.  The only thing worse than sand is hills :-)

Part II coming soon....