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Friday’s foaming rant: Making the sign of the (cyclo-)cross

It’s the end of the world as we know it.REMIt’s probably just a coincidence that the badnews about the SuperCup arrived about the same time that the giantblack goat appeared on the local dude ranch where I do my cyclo-cross workouts.This unholy apparition, which spooked a couple of horses and sent twopilgrims flying, proved to be a peripatetic billy by the name of Goliathwhose anxious owners quickly reclaimed him. Nevertheless, after a summerof drought, fire, warfare and pestilence, this disquieting congruence ofevents set me to thumbing through my grandmother’s old Bible, checkingthe Book of

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By Patrick O’Grady

It’s hard as the devil to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it.
REMIt’s probably just a coincidence that the badnews about the SuperCup arrived about the same time that the giantblack goat appeared on the local dude ranch where I do my cyclo-cross workouts.This unholy apparition, which spooked a couple of horses and sent twopilgrims flying, proved to be a peripatetic billy by the name of Goliathwhose anxious owners quickly reclaimed him. Nevertheless, after a summerof drought, fire, warfare and pestilence, this disquieting congruence ofevents set me to thumbing through my grandmother’s old Bible, checkingthe Book of Revelation for references like, “And in those days shall menseek cyclo-cross, and shall not find it.”I had been keeping one jaded eye peeled for evil portents, since Shannonand I had contracted to buy a house down in Colorado Springs, where a numberof temple money-changers are overdue for a visit from an angry Christ.So I was far from making a joyful noise unto the Lord when I learned ofthe abrupt “postponement,” as promoter Lyle Fulkerson called it, of a nationalevent that I have made money writing about.Still, the announcement was hardly a stunner. Lyle has had trouble gettingthe SuperCup off the start line for a couple of seasons now, and that hadnothing to do with black goats, although there is plenty of hell and deviltryinvolved in promoting any class of a bike race.Anyone who’s ever solicited corporate sponsorship knows that promotionaltypes are prone to hoot derisively at race directors with the stones topitch them an event featuring anyone other than Lance Armstrong. And ifsaid promoter is talking cyclo-cross, he better fetch a video along toshow the chortling moneybags just what the hell he’s talking about if hehopes to drive this financial camel through the eye of that conceptualneedle.Get the money, and the next barricade to hurdle involves land managers, many of whom would rather host the Main Goat, with Marilyn Manson as the opening act, at a black Mass on Sunday, Christmas Day, than see a horde of muddy cyclists carving a swath across their Kentucky bluegrass, no matter how sincere the promoter is about cleaning up afterward.Finally, the sport itself has more sects than Christianity, making ittough on anyone who would be its pope. Cyclo-cross is one thing back East,and another here in Colorado, and something else again on the West Coast,and the schisms dividing the multitude of styles and sanctioning bodiesconstitute an almost insurmountable gulf for a national-series promoterto bridge.But Lyle tried, God love him, and it was fun while it lasted.The nationals-SuperCup tandem in San Francisco’s Presidio back in 1999,a joint effort by Lyle’s Kiron Group and Rick Sutton’s GaleForce, remainsone of my all-time favorite race weekends, and not just becauseI was paid to be there.The course, redesigned at the 11th hour after a tiff with one of theland managers, wove back and forth across itself like worms in a bowl,making spectatorship a literal walk in the park. The racing was superb,among men and women alike, and the crowd was seriously, joyously into it,transforming the Presidio into an open-air Notre Dame full of bell-ringingQuasimodos. It was as close to heaven as I’m likely to get, in this lifeor any other.Or maybe not. While the SuperCup may have gone to its reward, the RedlineCup of Cyclo-cross is very much among us, and Redline’s Tim Rutledge andhis congregants know their cyclo-cross, chapter and verse. Nationals areonce again in the capable hands of GaleForce, this time at Domaine Chandonin Napa. And there is plenty of other racing, from Maine to Spokane andAustin to Boston, from UCI-sanctioned spectaculars to informal gallopsaround city parks.So it’s not the end of the world. It might not even be the end of theSuperCup. Lyle is preaching resurrection in 2003, and if he manages toroll away that stone, then we’ll have two national cyclo-cross series.Can I get an a-men?


The opinions, speculations, ravings, foamings and rantings of theauthor are not necessarily those of VeloNews, VeloNews.com,Inside Communication Inc., its creditors, advertisers or anyone else who’snot a taco short of a combination plate, a bubble off plumb or a coupleof bricks shy of a load. In short, this rant is not our fault. The guy’sgot a no-cut contract, like Terrell Davis, but with worse knees. Still,if you feel so inclined, you can dropus a note and tell us and the author what you think.