As most of you know, my dad made the trip out to Edmonton to watch the ‘cross races and generally help us out in all manners possible. Well, this was also his first time ever seeing a cyclo-cross race. I asked him to write a post for the site about his impressions of the weekend:
Confessions of a Neophyte Cyclo-Cross spectator – by Paul Thomas
Seven days ago, if you had asked me about rolling a tubular, I would have thought that I was being offered an illegal smoke! If I’d been introduced to a commissaire, I’d have expected to meet a commissionaire-wanna-be. How perspectives change…
My first exposure to cyclo-cross racing was in Edmonton at the Cross Nationals and the Jim Horner races held over the Thanksgiving weekend. And what a weekend it turned out to be. Aside from being able to spend it with Vicki and Marc, I got to meet Fearless Leader (from the Victoria’s Island blog), and several other cycling friends of theirs, and, most importantly, I garnered an understanding – albeit probably most superficial – of what it means to be a member of that particular community.
How did I do this? Let me count the ways: Not to suggest that it was a love-in, but I was struck first by the camaraderie. In the staging area, at the start, and again at the races’ conclusions, there was obvious bonhomie, a willingness to help, and an enormous amount of genuinely delivered congratulatory comments. Second, the spectators seemed to be there for all the riders, not just their own family/team members. One would call out encouragement to a rider, by name, and then others would pick up the name and attach it to their shout comments. I’m told by racers how much this means to them. Third, and possibly most telling, was the generosity of the spectators and non-participating racers: in all of the races that I watched, there were one or two riders who were having problems keeping up. Bluntly, they were very clearly out-classed. Yet there were no derisive comments, no jeers, no snide asides. Only words of praise; words geared (excuse the pun) to promote sustained effort and self-worth! Wow! That is the way confidence grows and participants stay the course.
But what about the races? Sorry, but they became almost incidental to this spectator. I appreciated the skill, the strength, even the fancy bikes and skinsuits, but mainly I learned that having fun, developing and growing do not depend on winning. It’s the people who count.
Thanks Dad for the great weekend summary. P.S. – my dad took a whole lot of photos during the weekend. I’m currently trying to get them up on the site. I’ll post when they are up.
Thanks again Dad for helping us all out so much. The Ottawa race crew is indebted to you. Hmm, maybe next year my dad should pull on a skinsuit and do some cyclo-cross racing? What do you think?