A friendly and informal game of one-upsmanship between promoters is pushing the Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s to new levels of quality and fun, and could be benefiting all types of bike racing and riding in the three-state Ohio Valley region. And it’s enjoyable to watch the creativity develop in this relatively young series as overgrown boys play the classic game of “anything you can do, I can do better”.
One way that promoters are raising the bar is the increasing use of chip timing. Both of the next two races on the Zipp OVCX Cyclocross Tour presented by Papa John’s, the Papa John’s Storm the Greens in Kentucky and the Gun Club Cyclocross in Ohio, will be using the technology that ubiquitous in other racing sports and provides faster, more detailed, results data.
This weekend’s Papa John’s Storm the Greens races in Louisville will also feature tethered hot-air balloon rides above the races to raise money for junior development cycling. It’s a fair bet that most cyclocross racers haven’t flown in a balloon, let alone flown in one above a cyclocross race for just four dollars. Storm the Greens will also feature a rare display of one of the most famous automobiles in America: the restored Z28 Camaro that co-stars with founder John Schnatter in the Papa John’s television commercials. Schnatter sold his beloved hot rod as a very young man to raise capital for his first pizza restaurant and then tracked-down and re-bought it for a quarter of a million dollars last year.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Cincinnati, promoter John Gatch of the Gun Club Cyclocross on November 7 continues to make his race noisier, more filling and more diverse. Not content with ‘merely’ starting each race with a blast from a double-barrel shotgun, Gatch has hired the 13-man drum line from the Cincinnati Traditions Drum and Bugle Corps to provide additional atmosphere around the race venue. And while the sight of Gatch, a vegetarian who shaves his legs and wears lederhosen at his race, could be a nightmare for conservative political radio personalities, Gatch’s shotgun and burly, bearded grill master known as Earl My Name is Earl preparing a carnivorous concoction of various wursts outside the central hunting lodge are indications that this is an event that reaches across cultural fences and is no ordinary cyclocross.
But even Gatch’s Remington 20-gauge over-under shotgun is a subject for one-upsmanship. Seeing no need to resort to such a “puny” firearm, TJ Turner has had his M16 Automatic Assault Rifle literally strapped to his back while organizing Thanksgiving weekend’s Buckingham Financial John Bryan Classic near Dayton, Ohio. It’s not that Dayton is especially dangerous or that Turner particularly wants to live in government housing, but he happens to be temporarily spending some time in Afghanistan where they, unfortunately, know a thing or two about really big guns.
Half of the 15-race 2010 Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s still remains on a schedule that continues into December.