This is the first of 3 short films about Cyclocross in Belgium (pre-Covid) from videographer Philip Millard. ‘This Thing of Ours’ is from a supporters point of view.
A project in which a poem is disguised as a bicycle video, that you read with your ears…
I love to ride my bike. I also love to write poetry. The only problem is, people pay more attention to the riding than the writing.
Maybe that’s because folks are perplexed by a sweaty, 32-year-old man in tights grunting around in circles on the beach. Maybe it’s because I only write limericks that will get me in trouble if anyone sees them besides my dog…
Regardless, in an attempt to bring some joy to these most topsy turvey of times, and to bring some purpose to my own disrupted life, I wanted to share my love of sandy cyclocross rides and poetry.
The sandy cyclocross ride is inspired by the hallowed dunes of the Koksijde World Cup in Belgium. Even though the event was canceled this year, I can still chase a similar feeling closer to home. And those rides close to home inspire the words you are about to absorb. And hopefully, those words inspire you to go find your own bicycle happy place wherever that may be. And from there, we can all enjoy what we have right in front of us. And be inspired for something anew. And so the cycle will roll, on and on and on…..
Or for a more traditional poetry consumptive experience, the full text is below:
Of distant lands,
Where lore dug deep
‘Cross windswept dunes
Of Crank & Chain: Cyclocross is a 240 page photographic and written expression of domestic cyclocross in 2019. Both black and white and color images captured locally in the Pacific Northwest as well as at UCI events around the nation, the book is not organized by the events themselves, but rather by parts of a race day from the events spanning the season, blended together and presented as one continuous event. None of the images contain captions of the who and the where, because, in a way, a season is a singular event and also features images of amateurs and professionals and doesn’t draw a distinction between them. In the U.S., we are all just ‘cross racers suffering on the same track. In that respect, American cyclocross paints amateurs and pros with essentially the same brush. More than anything the book is about what it is to race cyclocross and what goes into it, as opposed to a year in review.
More than a year later, I’m still captivated by the memory, the scene, the moment.
It was a hot autumn day, one of the last of the year before the seasonal chill poured from the Bay of Biscay into the Spanish Basque Country. A young man stepped into the middle of the road. He wore a flapping outfit of white with a red handkerchief and belt. It was the kind of attire that flails down the narrow streets of Basque cities during the annual running of the bulls in Northern Spain.
Just before Covid hit the US and races were canceled indefinitely, I had a conversation on a ride with good friend Brendan Lehman (who is sometimes, more often than not, known as the official unofficial mis-manager of the Rock Lobster race team) about joining the risk of Lobsters and racing on a custom frame built by Paul Sadoff himself. I’d been riding with the Rock Lobster crew here in Santa Cruz for several years and we all seemed to share a common bond in doing remarkably stupid endurance rides, putting mental and physical limits to the test for fun and adventure. Since I first laid eyes on one, there has always been something alluring to me about a classic, team issue, seafoam green Rock Lobster. Not only will I get to ride and race on this custom bike built for my body dimensions, but I also get the pleasure to ride it with the builder himself. As a photographer, I figured it would be great to capture the build of my custom frame from start to finish and get to know Paul a little better in the process.
If you’ve followed the reporting for the last three years on this Cyclocross Pilgrimage to the Motherland, you will have read plenty of tales of struggling, suffering, and the general beat downs of European race life. I’m not here to make excuses or polish turds. I’m here to tell it to you like it is. To keep it real. Thus I’ve written more than 30 articles bringing you along for my weekly whoopings in all their self-deprecating glory because that’s the truth. That’s the reality. That’s the story.
And now, dearest readers, I finally have a happy tale to tell. Though it feels an odd one to write, and I cringe at potentially walking the fine line of self-aggrandizing douche. But I try to consider the context. This is the first time in over 30 deadlines that I’ve managed a meaningful achievement. This too is just part of the ride. The reality. The story. And it’s the kind I might not get to write again for another three years, or for that matter, ever again…
Here’s a fun recap video from USA Cycling’s Cyclocross National Championships at Fort Steilacoom Park…
My friend Rebecca Gates once told me, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” She quickly admitted that this piece of wisdom came from tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Since then it has been at the top of my mind. There is power in this expression “Start where you are” eliminates steps to action. “Use what you have” wrests back agency– doing this engages oneself in action while giving oneself to taking action, or “do what you can.”
Action, especially towards a greater good, is the most salient way to combat the various tentacles of existential dread, whether they are cancer, capitalism, or climate change. No matter where we turn, dread appears. Unavoidable but not unconquerable, we succumb only through inaction. Taking the first step towards action can be difficult, especially in our culture, which seems to perpetually discovering new heights of apathy. The world and our culture can feel like an incredibly heavyweight.
Easton pulled together a great video showcasing last weekend’s CX Nats.
I was hardly surprised when he turned us away. After three seasons battling these neon-vested, parking fascists at Belgian cyclocross races, I’d come to expect rejection.
Max and I were racing today, and we’d just tried to enter the Renner’s Parking, the exact place for people like us. Yet the gatekeeper grunted in Flemish that there was no room for our little Peugeot Partner in the lot stuffed with hundreds of camper vans and buses from the larger Belgian teams.
Bombtrack accompanied their pro racer Gosse van der Meer to the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Bern to gain insight into the grits and guts it takes to compete at this level.
Bombtrack takes us inside the NRW Cross-Cup for some European ‘cross racing vibes.
To celebrate the forthcoming SSCXWC19UT, Salt Lake City builder Salt Air is offering up a made in Utah ‘cross frameset. The Men’s and Women’s winners will each receive one of these ‘Lizard King Cross’ frames with ENVE fork in their size. Salt Air is also offering the frameset to interested parties at $2,175 (as pictured with the painted-to-match ENVE fork and Thomson collar). Check out more photos and details at the Salt Air Website!
For the latest EF Gone Racing video, Lachlan Morton flew to Yorkshire for an iconic race on the British cycling calendar, the Three Peaks Cyclocross…
Shot during the 2002-2004 cyclocross seasons, Pure Sweet Hell is a film by Brian Vernor and Willie K. Bullion that looks at ‘cross racing’s roots in an era before web edits and Instagram. Check out more backstory at Metroactive.
This just in from the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz:
“Big things are happening with Surf City CX this year. With MBOSC coming on to manage the race, the 2019 event is shaping up to be one nobody will soon forget. The race will be held at a brand new venue right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz at Antonelli Pond! The best part about this venue is that it’s easy access from anywhere in Santa Cruz, so we expect this to be a great community event. With a FREE Kids Race, Costume Race, food trucks, live music, and a beer garden, there is a lot of fun to be had for the whole family. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclocross pro or racing for the first time, this will be a race to remember. Claim your spot to race at this brand new venue and register NOW!”
Surf City Cyclocross Race
Sunday, October 27
Antonelli Pond, Westside of Santa Cruz
You’ve spent all summer waiting. All summer training. Cross is here. Here’s how Naked Factory Racing in Vancouver has been preparing.
Three years ago, at the start of the 2016 ‘cross season, Santa Cruz and MASH SF teamed up to create what is, in my opinion, the most recognizable Stigmata frameset of all time. There have been other team builds, other rad bikes, but this is the one everyone remembers. And yet, there were only 12 of these frames available to the public and less than 20 including the team frames!