Save the USGP of Cyclocross!

5:31 AM

The news broke on the internet this week (this, of course, did not make any newspapers, which in itself is part of the problem):

Cyclocross Magazine's story

Reading about the story at Cyclocross Magazine or Velo News brought only confirmation to the suspicions the Spouse and I had been harboring for about two weeks.  The first US Gran Prix race is held near Madison Wisconsin in late September, and we eagerly awaited the opening of online registration on August 15 (last year it appeared that the start boxes for the amateur races were determined by registration order – early bird!). 

But the original registration date was delayed.  And then put off again.  Somewhere around the third delay I remembered a piece of data that had stuck somewhere in the back of my mind – something about how Exergy, the giant energy company and title sponsor of the USGP, was having financial troubles and couldn’t meet its sponsorship contracts.  But would this be the cause of the registration delays?

Nash owned the women's competition in 2011

Turns out it is, and it sucks.  The USGP of Cyclocross is scrambling for companies to step up their sponsorship commitments for a race that is now three weeks away.  The clock is ticking, my hotel reservation is made (refundable, thankfully), I am fully prepared to spend some money on the local Sun Prairie economy, and I’ve got plenty of reasons for why I desperately want to open my CX season with this race:

1.  You get to watch and heckle the pros during their races.  Last year we got to watch: Jeremy Powers, Tim Johnson, Ryan Trebon, Todd Wells, and Jonathan Page (all US CX Champions, I believe) in the same race.  On the women’s side we got to see the US U23 National Champion Katie Antonneau, Czech National Champion Katerina Nash, and Georgia Gould (just won the bronze in the 2012 Olympic mountain bike race).  There is nothing more fun than standing on the sideline with a beer in hand saying, “Yah, I took that line, too.”

2.  It is a great way to start the season feeling like a pro.  This is a well-organized event with lots of staff to make everything run smoothly, actual announcers (who may call your name when you cross the finish line!), and one of those cool finish line set-ups where you can do your best Peter Sagan as Hulk impersonation.  Hulk angry!

I don't live in Oregon or Massachusetts - this is as good as it gets in the mid-west

3.  For the women – you get your very own race with other women.  Last year I got to line up with a field of 40 awesome women, by far the most I’ve ever raced against on two wheels.  And ahead of us was just open course – we didn’t have to share our time slot with a bunch of cranky old dudes.  When my field crossed the line the women rode almost an entire additional lap because we were so excited and wanted to go again!

4.  It is held on a real, honest-to-goodness cyclocross course.  This isn’t a mountain bike course masquerading as a CX course, or a criterium with barriers, but a great mix of asphalt, grass, up, down, turns and fun!

Georgia, using her mad MTB skills in the mud
5.  You get to race against a bunch of different people.  C’mon, you have all season to duke it out with that dude from the local competing bike club in the 35+ category.  At this race you will be surrounded by new faces, and you might surprise yourself with what can happen when you are placed out of your comfort zone in a race…

So come on Trek!  Step up Quality Bike Parts!  Planet Bike, you’re already dropping some dough, give a little more!  Papa John, I hear you have a pimped-out ‘cross bike – here’s a chance to get your brand out there amongst the hippest bikers around!

Cyclocross has exploded in the last five years in America, and we need to do more than just nurture the local amateur races – we also need a vibrant professional scene to develop world-class talent for the World Championships which are coming to Louisville in January, 2013.  These four races now anchor the CX season in the US – they are worth fighting for!

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