Fourth Impressions

Posted on 05. Feb, 2011 by in news

After the first 20-day trip to Belgium to cover cross races, I really couldn’t pass up going to the Cyclocross World Championships now could I? So after a short rest at home in California,  I embarked on another – shorter – trip to Europe, starting with the final World Cup in Hoogerheide, Netherlands and culminating in St Wendel, Germany.

Hoogerheide, a nice welcome back as I felt at home in the media scrum. Excitement and nervousness was in the air for the final big race before Worlds and everyone was in town to test themselves, the last dress rehearsal as it were. The long season for many could be seen in their (and my) faces, sentences were shorter,  gregarious and outgoing folks were quiet and withdrawn – just plain weariness .

I asked them why the ostrich costume? And they said 'why not'. Why not indeed.

I asked them why the ostrich costume? And they said 'why not'. Why not indeed.

First Worlds.  The always enthusiastic crowd was ratcheted up a level with national pride kicking in. The Swiss were dressed in red & white were out for the junior race on Saturday morning with cowbells and cheers. Soon, a Belgian contingent made its presence known as each country staked out a spot on course. Bells, cheers, horns, megaphones, all were in use.

Every country was represented and more and more fans showed up during the weekend until the last race.  Costumes and many interesting hats (what’s up with all the birds?) could be seen.  And then of course, the beer tents which were going full-on by 10am every day with music blasting until late in the evening. If I don’t hear ‘Sweet Caroline’ or ‘Daddy Cool’ for the next 5 years, well I’m okay with that.

By the elite men’s race on Sunday afternoon, the combination of the soggy, slippery infield packed with people with the limited, slow-moving course crossover bridges made movement difficult for the fans and for us photographers. With those conditions, most fans stayed in one spot and it was actually louder on the infield, between the pit and runup, than by the finish line. With jumbotrons making it possible to see the finish, many chose to stay in one spot where a lot of the course could be seen first-hand and then watch the finish on the screen. Speaking of finish line, it was great to hear Richard Fries call the race (when he could be heard) and I’m sure that some of his expressions had the fans scratching their heads.

Wall of noise and fans surround the riders

Wall of noise and fans surround the riders

With lots more media at the race, photographers are assigned color bibs with the red bibs getting a better spot at the finish line and the rest of us in green or yellow bibs had a spot behind on a stand. Apart from that, we were set free to get out there, all equal and all running around.

My view of the finish line, waiting for Stybar

My view of the finish line, waiting for Stybar

So many emotions throughout the weekend. Tears of joy and disappointment, grins of joy, fatigue, pain, all were seen and that’s what makes it so magical.

And so many memories throughout the season both in North America and in Europe – one of the highlights has to be sitting down with a 1-1 with the man himself, Sven Nys.

What started off as curiosity, quickly morphed into infatuation two years ago, has now evolved into a full-fledged love affair and hopefully it will continue for many more years. I hope I was able to bring you some of the color from the races and thank you for coming along. Louisville in 2013 is going to rock!

It's a beautiful thing

It's a beautiful thing

Interviews, Race Reports, Galleries for Cross Worlds

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One Response to “Fourth Impressions”

  1. Shaun

    06. Feb, 2011

    Thank you for everything Lyne! I love your website and I love seeing you at all the races!