|While race day in Fayetteville devolved into a sloppy mudfest ...|
|... Iowa City basked in sunshine and temps in the mid-70s|
It was quite a tour de force, for the athletes, the officials, and especially the carnies who had to set up three different UCI Cyclocross World Cup venues within less than 10 days. The opening event of the 2021/2022 'cross series had been on October 10 in Waterloo, Wisconsin—a race that I had worked in the past but that was covered by my colleague Linda this year. I left Lubbock one day later, on Monday the 11th, and flew to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the second stop of the campaign. The race date was Wednesday, an unusual but not unheard-of mid-week date for such an important international event. While the entire race entourage moved on from Arkansas to Iowa City (some flying, some driving), I flew home on Thursday, only to get back on a plane on Friday and fly to Iowa for the third stop of the series on American soil. A week after my initial departure from Lubbock I made it back home the following Monday, on October 18.
As many if not most of my readers know, Arkansas is home of Walmart, and Fayetteville is just a few miles away from Bentonville, where Walmart has its headquarters. Among my cycling friends it is common knowledge that two of the Sam Walton heirs, namely Tom and Steuart [sic] who are Sam's grandsons, are complete cycling aficionados. They now own boutique clothing manufacturer Rapha, and Allied Cycle Works, a high-end carbon bike manufacturer, is also majority owned by Wally-World money. Northwest Arkansas has become a mecca for mountain bikes, thanks to money from the Walton Foundation that has established trails and put this part of the world essentially dead center on the cycling map. Attracting the World Cup was the last stepping stone to Fayetteville's hosting the UCI Cyclocross World Championships at the end of January 2022.
|The day before the Fayetteville race, the sun shone during the official course inspection|
|This amazing bike wash area was later set up with almost |
a dozen power washers that saw non-stop action
|Who would have ever thought that we'd see banners for a |
Belgian frites sauce manufacturer?
|The entire Fayetteville race course had been built for this |
event—and the 'cross World Championships at the end of January 2022
|In preparation for the upcoming UCI 'Cross World Championships a brand new |
Welcome Center is being built in what is still a large construction zone
|A Dutch newspaper is one of the various European sponsors of the series|
|Representatives from the UCI, USA Cycling, and Medalist Sports |
all participated in the course inspection on Tuesday
|Twenty-four hours later the Finish Line area was all decked out, |
with beer tent, VIP area, and media stalls
For the Fayetteville race, Medalist Sports was the company that provided all the race infrastructure in the form of trusses, barricades, tents, and everything else that such an event requires. I had worked with Medalist on various occasions before (AMGEN Tour of California, Tour of Utah, Tour of Alberta, Colorado Classic, etc.), and they are a class outfit that is professional to the last detail. Before such races I contact the organizer and we discuss my transportation and housing needs as well as the details of my work. I know Medalist, Medalist knows me, and there are never surprises. Wwhen I arrived at XNA (Northwest Arkansas), an Avis rental car in the form of a sweet Land Rover was waiting for me, and I had a room on the 10th floor of the Fayetteville Graduate, a quirky, college-themed hotel where most of the entourage was housed. Being in downtown Fayetteville meant that outside of my work hours it was easy to stroll to one of the various micro-breweries without having to use the car. You see why I like these races?
|The decorations in my room in the graduate were definitely |
unusual; former student ID replicas serve as room keys
|Yep, this razorback was watching over my sleep|
|It was such a pleasure to run into my friend Rebecca from El Paso|
|The commissaires huddle before the first start|
So, that was the first part of my week. As I said, Thursday morning I flew back to Lubbock, got home in the afternoon, unpacked, repacked, ate, slept, and left for the airport the next morning. Just as an aside, of my eight flights, six were upgrade 100 hours before the flight—only the two flights from DFW back to Lubbock never cleared, for whatever reason. Oh well, no biggie. Flying in First makes things much nicer, though, even on these puddle jumpers that serve LBB, XNA, and CID, which is the airport for both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Another rental car was waiting for me, and on the way to my hotel in North Liberty (a non-memorable Sleep Inn) I took in a bit of the local scenery and stopped for a pint at House Divided Brewery in Ely. Nope, it's not a religious reference but has something to do with football.Jürgen
Both races were wickedly fast, and the riders were fairly dehydrated. I talked to some of them about their travel plans, and let me tell you, it's not easy to be a Pro. Some of them were going to drive with their teams four hours that evening to Chicago to catch a flight to Europe the next day, with another race scheduled for Wednesday, just a day after getting back to Europe. Others were going to fly out the next morning and try to connect to their home bases; the organizer had arranged for COVID tests for all those who needed them to return to Europe. Some of the US riders were also going to leave for Europe; after all, these had been just the first three races of the 16 that comprise the entire series. Man, that's rough! When do they actually get a chance to train with all that travel?
My way home was way less complicated and simply involved another night in the Sleep Inn, a short drive to the CID airport, and then two relatively short flights home. In DFW, while in the Admiral's Club, I experienced some pangs of good old Fernweh when I saw the jets ready to depart for Europe, but it's just a question of time until that part of my life starts being revived again.
|Kalona Brewing Company|
|Backpocket Brewing In Coralville|
|Martijn Swinkles, the Dutch UCI PCP of all three |
Cyclocross World Cups on US soil this year