Photos by: Tim Cannard and Corvos Images
It’s been three days since I left Louisville, Kentucky, yet my ears are still ringing from the cacophony of cowbells, my knuckles are still bruised and bloody from working on bikes and I’m still finding bluegrass mud hidden in nether regions of my body. Although I’ve been a cyclocrosser for more than 15 years, I’ve never experienced extremes like the ones witnessed in Louisville last week. From 70 degree temperatures with tornadoes and thunderstorms to face-numbing single digit readings with four inches of snow, experiencing one week of weather in Louisville for the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships was like experiencing one year of weather in any normal part of the world.
Aside from the ludicrous changes in weather, equally ludicrous was the amount of mud every racer, mechanic and even spectator had to endure. Woe to the person who showed up at Cyclocross Worlds sporting a new pair of hiking boots. One walk around the course – especially the Masters venue – and they were essentially ready for the trash can. The rubber boots I bought at Home Depot might have been the best 18 dollars I ever spent in my life, aside from the 30 dollars I spent on a waterproof rain suit and the two dollars I spent on a “I heart Hot Moms” t-shirt for the Raleigh Singlespeed Derby on Thursday night (which ended up the best event all week long).
If the weather wasn’t apocalyptic enough for the first ever Elite Cyclocross World Championship in America, old man Ohio River decided it was a good time to show all the Euros how a real river overruns its banks, ‘Merican style. Ten feet higher than normal levels, the rising Ohio River forced UCI officials to reschedule all Sunday events – including the main event – to Saturday in order to prevent the Cyclocross World Championships from becoming the Cycloswim World Championships. Good thing they did, because on Sunday morning, half the course was filled with radioactive carp and catfish.
To read about the conditions in Louisville and to actually experience them were two completely different things. As you read this you might think, “Okay, so there was mud and it was cold, big deal. HTFU.” For better context of how insane the conditions were, as I stood at a power washer in 15 degree weather with frozen Kentucky mud completely paralyzing the drivetrain of my teammate’s bike, a WD40 Bike employee who was busting his hump in a futile attempt to remove the frozen concrete told me “This mud can rip a track off an Abrams tank. I’ve seen it. I was stationed in the military here years ago.”