Monday, October 1, 2012

Veldri-wha? (A brief spectator guide.)

What is going to happen in the park on Saturday?

A series of bicycle races. But not just any race, one that includes barriers (think short hurdles), sand, hills, pavement, stairs, grass, and maybe even mud. Races are run rain or shine. The sport is called cyclocross, while the event is Veldrijden Columbia. 

What's with the name?

"Veldrijden" is the Flemmish/Dutch word for cyclocross, or field racing.  Veldrijden is the "NASCAR" of Belgium.

How does one ride all that?!

It takes a lot of practice!  Some of the features are easier to run than ride, so racers will dismount, carry thier bikes, run through a section, then remount and continue pedaling.  The beginners make it look difficult, while the top area amateurs are fast and make it look easy.  Races last from 30 to 60 minutes.

How should I spectate?

Come in weather appropriate attire and find a "good spot" on the course.  The best way to find a "good spot" is to walk along the course (NOT INSIDE THE TAPE!!) and get a sense for what the racers see each lap.  Next to a sand pit, barriers, tight turns, or on a steep hill all provide good viewing.  Generally the racers will be going slower through such areas and you can see them dig deep to clear those sections quickly. 

Feel free to bring along a cowbell, vuvuzela, or noisemaker to cheer on the racers.  Cheering the racers is part of what makes cyclocross a festive event. You may want to try your hand at heckling.

I should heckle the racers?

Yes, but in a good natured way.  If you can say something clever, perhaps a bit cutting, but also motivating, then you're doing it right.  This is a family friendly event, so keep that in mind.

If you'd rather just scream "GO GO GO!", that's ok too! 

What time should I get there?

The first race starts at 10:00am and is the novice class, these are first year male cyclocrossers.  The schedule progresses during the day to the fastest women at 1:30 and the fastest men at 2:35.

What is the purpose of all this?

Cyclocross racing is great exercise, lots of fun, and proceeds from the event benefit the local Helmets First charity.

The 2011 Elite Amateur Men's Podium.

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