Bicycle racing in America just isn’t interesting. And cyclocross, forget about it. No one even knows what it is.
And that makes sense, because by and large, bicycle racing isn’t an American sport. The bicycle wasn’t invented here. The sport’s greatest talents traditionally never came from here. We love our basketball, our baseball, our football – our highest profile sports – all of which were cultivated right here on our soil. But cycling – cycling has no roots here. Maybe some shallow ones that we don’t talk about anymore because they’re not colored yellow.
Cycling has been marginalized here in America. But thanks in no small part to social media, it’s growing. And cyclocross is exploding. Look no further than White Barn Farm on Saturday. Over 200 racers lined up for the 2009 edition of The Ice Weasels Cometh. In mid-December, 200+ rabid fools and countless spectators spent the day in temperatures that, factoring for wind chill, hung in the teens. All to celebrate cyclocross. To put a big fat stamp on the end of the season. And in the process, to cement the importance of a sport that most everyone, riders and non-riders alike, knows almost nothing about.
Everyone who showed up on Saturday had a reason to stay home, safe and secure in the comfort of their fleece lined footie pajamas, tucked under a blanket on the couch with the furnace turned up. And the crowd – the crowd had even less reason to show up than the racers. But they did. All of them did. In mid-December, with crusty snow and ice glazing the landscape, cars lined the field across from White Barn Farm. For a chance to race in some of the most inhospitable conditions cyclocross has to offer. It was an amazing sight.
The Ice Weasels Cometh was one giant party. It’s what every cross race is supposed to be. I don’t think anyone, even the promoter, expected the surge of attention this race received. It wasn’t Belgium by a long shot, but it was the closest thing we’ve had around here so far. If we can springboard off the success of this event, and I honestly believe we will, cross has a chance of becoming something I don’t have to explain to people. They may actually even care. Imagine that.