CX Nats 2005: Surviving the Storm
Liberty Mutual U.S. National Cyclo Cross Championships
December 9th , 2005 was a very stormy day in UCI land. In Europe the long drawn out fight between the UCI and the Grand Tours organizers appeared to reach a dramatic conclusion when the two parties angrily parted ways. It remains to be seen what the aftermath of this storm will bring. On the other side of the Atlantic, New England was being battered with an epic December snow storm during the first day of the Liberty Mutual U.S. National Cyclo Cross Championships in the Roger Williams Park in Rhode Island . This UCI/USCF sanctioned event is the high point of the US cyclo cross season and it drew about 1700 racers of all categories.
For those racing on the first day (December 9th ) it was a true test of the “boast” that cyclo cross racers can handle any weather and any terrain. Snow, rain and then icy snow, combined with thunder, lightning and hurricane force winds to create white-out conditions that often made it impossible to see the course markers. However all but two of the day's scheduled races took place before the organizers gave way to the blizzard and sent everyone home. Course markers, banners, tents and other temporary equipment was blown down and strewn all over the Roger Williams Park. Some of it even ended up being blasted onto the nearby large and frozen lake.
It is a testament to the impeccable and dedicated race organization that come the second day everything was back in place and ready for two more days of fabulous racing action. To achieve the impossible a hardy group of volunteers were back in the now tranquil park to rebuild the race infrastructure at 4:00AM in the morning. What greeted the racers and thousands of race fans was a cyclo cross event in astounding, picture postcard beauty. The race course, trees and the parks picturesque ice covered lake, were all coated in brilliant white snow that was enhanced by strong sunlight and blue sky. In these conditions days two and three of the proceedings were as good as it gets in the cyclo cross world. With clockwork precision over 25 National Championship jersey races were contested. From the juniors to masters the fans were treated to spirited racing and demonstrations of great skill as the rider's negotiated mud, slush, snow, ice and a few patches of firm pavement.
When the fast moving storm had blown itself out into the Atlantic , the Liberty Mutual U.S. National Cyclo Cross Championships continued and will be remembered by race fans and riders alike as possibly the best championships ever in this discipline. Meanwhile the cycling world sincerely hopes that when the storm besetting the UCI finally blows itself out, we will all be left with an improved sport as tranquil and beautiful as the race scene in Roger Williams Park.
* In January we will publish another article reviewing the US National Cyclo Cross championships. Meanwhile we are posting photo albums from the three days of racing. The first is here: Elite CX Nats Photo Album .
* Last February we discussed the UCI's ongoing battles in Controversy, Confusion, Commitment – the UCI's ProTour . It seems that little progress has been made since then.