“Even Disappointment is Bigger in Texas”
There’s a lot to be said about the events that occurred on Sunday morning here in Austin, all of which have been stomped to death elsewhere, so what I’ll say is, for a race that was almost killed off, this was one of most beautiful and challenging courses I’ve ever witnessed. That’s coming from someone who has never traveled overseas, of course, but still.
Look, Austin is a growing city, trying to keep things “weird” and maintain its small town vibe, while it’s bursting at the seams with new construction and lots of new, self-important money. Events like SxSW, ACL and Fun Fun Fun Fest have been destroying the same parks over and over again, so when people see their beautiful Zilker and its hillsides being “destroyed”, they tend to overreact. Especially when they’re not briefed as to what “cyclocross” is.
I can say, It upsets me that this is what the ‘cross world will forever remember us by, not for the ripping course and supportive local scene. We all love cross and it kills us just as much as it kills you. Anyway, onto the story…
For the past week, I’ve been figuring out how to document this event and let me tell you, it was a lot easier before the organizers changed the course up. I had spots for each lap and ideas about how to tie in the women’s and men’s races, all of which was out the window when Sunday’s race was cancelled and the course underwent major work, eliminating many of the vignettes I had planned.
Shooting ‘cross isn’t easy, but it sure is challenging and as a photographer, I learn something new each time. Having raced on Wednesday, I felt like I had a good understanding of where to go and when. Throughout the entire day on Monday, unridable mud slowly transformed into 100% hero dirt. The lines were worn in and even the most technical section – a ribbon of off-camber mud-gutter with a 10″ drop off into one of the old course’s lines – was ridable. For most anyway.
At the end of the day, I experimented, caught some moments and pulled together one of my favorite galleries to date. I hope you enjoy… and remember, Austin loves ‘cross, let’s try to forgive and forget.
With the success of last year’s event, a bunch of us got talking and cooked up this idea:
“Argonaut Cycles, Mosiac Bespoke Bicycles and Breadwinner Cycles are proud to announce The 2015 Rouge Roubaix Builder Challenge. Each builder will bring a team of 4 to race in this years Rouge Roubaix. One slot on each Builder Team is up for grabs, and we want you to come ride with us! We are looking for a motivated, experienced racer to join each team. We could not think of a better way to highlight these special bikes than putting them to the test on a 106 mile grueling gravel race. Come ride with us!
Each builder will select one applicant and build them a complete Custom Dream Bike, and fly them down to race the Rouge Roubaix which takes place on Sunday March 15th in St. Francisville Louisiana. Applicants must be over 18 years of age and live in the USA. Applicants must also hold valid USA Cycling license for the category of the Builder Team they select and be able to travel to the race. Submission Deadline is Monday Jan 19th with the winners being announced publicly on Friday Jan 23rd.
John Watson from The Radavist will be on hand documenting the teams, the bikes and the race as well as other media outlets. In addition, Chris King is sending head chef Chris Diminno along to keep racers and media well fed during the weekend.”
Learn more at the Rouge Roubaix Builder Challenge webpage!
Face Plants and Frito Pies at the Crash Nationals Night Race
Photos by Gideon Tsang, Kevin Sparrow, Chris Lee and John Watson
Words by John Watson
When the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships (R.I.P.) were announced here in Austin, our local club, Beat the Clock Cycling and I decided to throw a bandit race out in the woods on the far East side of town, away from all the sanctioned races on Thursday night. We wanted it to be technical and tough, and best of all, at night.
Over the past few days, with all the events that came to Austin surrounding the 2015 Cross Nats, it’s easy to guess that I’ve shot a lot of photos. I’ll do my best to work them into various galleries, each with themes. Or something like that…
The first day at Cross Nats was not nearly as warm as previous days. One day, it’s 60º and the next, 30º. Granted, it was still sunny on the course. As both a racer and a documenter of this event, I felt that Wednesday captured a different energy than I’ve experienced so far.
That energy lies in the camaraderie of racing with your peers. Whether your age group, or the cult-like following of zipping around on a singlespeed bike – which is the most hysterical hole shot to ever witness – 130+ racers spinning super fast, going half the speed of a “normal” holeshot. Whatever it is, people were stoked to race en masse and anytime people are having fun, I’m into it.
For me, shooting these past two days have solidified how I want to shoot the Pro men’s and women’s races… See a selection from day one in the Gallery!
Last night was amazing. We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout, or a better crowd, or a better afterparty. It was sleeting, freezing and people showed up, bombed singletrack, crossed streams and raced their asses off.
Beat the Clock Cycling and The Radavist are grateful would like to say thank you so much for everyone who opted out of the norm and came to a fun evening of racing!
Hugs and kisses and more photos to come.
Don’t miss it! It’ll be cold so dress warm, bring a good lamp for night riding and $5! If you have questions, leave them in the comments. We are leaving promptly at 6pm from the provided address, so don’t be late.
Apologies for the silence over here today. With Nats here in Austin, I was out racing and shooting photos all day. I think it’s safe to say that everyone enjoyed this course. It had a little bit of everything and yes, it was damn tough!
I’ll post more once the dust settles, for now, here are a few…
Rather than jumble up the guide to surviving cyclocross nationals up with event fliers, I’ll just make an event and party flier dump, beginning with the Crash Nationals event flier. Pay close attention to the details. We’re expecting a large crowd, so don’t miss out on the fun. All-City is giving a Macho Disc away and we’ll be DJ’ing the after party at Yellow Jacket.
Got an event you’re throwing? Share it with me and I’ll add to this post… Do so ASAP!
Racin’ Bikes in a Junkyard: the Bilenky Junkyard Cross Race
Photos and interview by Chris Lee
For many of the cyclocross racers in the Northeast, December means its finally time to hang up the ‘cross bike and start putting down base miles for road season. Another group however gets geared up for what they consider the most fun on a bike they’ll have all year. Yes, its time for the infamous Bilenky Junkyard Cross race.
I should preface this gallery by saying, as an isolated selection of images, it’s ok. But after I post all the content I got from this weekend, it’ll be more complete. That includes, reviews, portraits and yeah, my new cross bike. For now, however, it does encapsulate our race conditions and a rather fun way to end the season.
We’ve had a fairly wet fall here in Austin, resulting in some grueling races with a lot of mud. The problem is, we don’t get normal mud here, since the base is limestone. Instead, we get iron-rich clay and clay, well, clay doesn’t like bikes. At all. Unless it’s in the drying process, when suddenly it becomes rails of brown pow.
Saturday’s race was more of a Tough Mudder course than a race course, with the day starting off as a 2 mile track, with around 1.25 miles of running. It sucked. Sucked the energy from your legs, sucked your derailleur off your hanger and sucked all the space it could find within your stays, cranks and fork. The officials shortened the course, resulting in faster times, but still, a lot of running. I’ve never had to shoulder a bike in a race before. Usually, everything was ridable, for some of us, anyway.
When Sunday came around and I could barely walk, I wasn’t looking forward to the course.
Alas, there’s that magical moment where mud transforms to fast lines of singletrack through the woods and mudpits become tacky enough to form a rut. Those are the moments where cross racing takes hold of your skills and sharpens them like a battle ax. Sunday was amazing and fast!
After doing my thing, there was talk of a chili eat-off between one of the older teams in town and the newer teams. Yacht Club vs Super Awesome. I had my money on the later, since Yacht Club prides themselves on their fine dining and boyish physiques. Boy was I wrong…