Wearing costumes, getting saucy, rolling in the mud, pushing the limits of cycling ability; cyclocross racers are doing it ALL FOR YOU, the spectator. OK, so most of us would probably still do those things in a dark room with nobody watching, but the point remains, cyclocross is a wicked fun spectator sport. The atmosphere is like tailgating, with food, drink, music, and lots of socializing. Courses are designed so that spectators can see a lot of action from one vantage point. Races are short and action packed, with nary a dull moment and little waiting time for results.
Seeing as CX is new to New Orleans, and some of the surrounding areas, YYR has some tips on how to get the most out of the season opener on October 19, as well as all upcoming races. Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your Franzia.
WHAT TO BRING:
Beer – Cyclocross and beer go together like, well, like New Orleans and beer! Not all races will have beer sponsors. BYOB is always a good policy. Remember to bring a few extra cold ones to hand up to racers in need of sudsy hydration.
Food – Like beer, some will be available at the race. In City Park we will have red beans and rice up to your eyeballs, courtesy of Blue Runner. It never hurts to bring other comestibles though. The atmosphere will be similar to tailgating. So if you are in the mood to bring out the grill and fire it up, you will probably make a lot of friends.
Chairs – Because who really wants to stand up all the time?
Cowbell – The original noisemaker of CX. Try to get your hands on one. There is a crazy Pavlovian response that occurs when a cyclist hears a cowbell. If you cant find one, bring out anything to make noise. Vuvuzelas, drum kits, dangerous Chinese firecrackers, etc.
Boots – You know those shrimping boots you like to pull out during Jazz Fest? Well they’re also a perfect accessory for ‘cross. Since our New Orleans course is pretty much in the swamp, any bit of precipitation and things will become nice and mucky (Speedos optional, but encouraged. See below).
Bug Spray – It’s important to remember when playing outside that the bugs were there first, and we are just visiting. They tend to like to hang out in the same places as CX racers. Namely mud and grass and everywhere wild and woody, but never too far from the keg.
Blanket – Outside of New Orleans, temperatures have been known to drop at times to 50 degrees Farenheit, or less. A blanket is to cyclocross what a towel is to Douglas Adams. You can wrap yourself up in it, lay it out on the ground, send smoke signals, or with enough hands, even use it as a trampoline.
WHAT TO DO
Heckle, Cackle, Cheer, Jeer – You know, the usual. Make up sarcastic nicknames for random competitors, scream nonsense, tell racers you love them, get creative. Whatever, just make some noise.
Hand-Ups: – Sometimes we need a boost during the race. It’s super rad when you’re right there on the edge of the course, arm extended, fingers lightly purchased on a generous offer of libation; bottle of Gatorade, can of beer, shot of espresso, etc.
Side Bets – Put your money where your mouth is. Nothing says “I believe in my racer buddy!” like running your mouthpiece and making friendly wagers with strangers.
BE THERE – This is really the most important thing. Cyclocross is the most fun bike sport to watch and has a huge tradition of spectator interaction and partying. We want that support and promise to put on a good show. Oh yeah, spectating is always FREE!
Personally, I know some friends of mine will be having a pregame party and group ride to the course, and that sounds like a pretty good idea for the rest of you. Spread the word. Spread the love. Smear the mud.
Yeah You Ride