2017 West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix: A Photo Essay and a Whole Lot of Heart.
We are lucky in our grassroots community, built around the pursuit of bike racing, to continuously meet and connect with diverse, creative people. While racing is a pursuit that requires singular focus, taking everything that the individual can commit to offering it, it is also definitively a community-building practice, offering physical (both place-based and biomechanical) outlets of expression, passion, entertainment, and cooperation. It can take you out into your backyard or around the world, and it will continue to introduce you to motivated people. Your spiderweb of connections grows the longer you stay in the sport, enriching your race-day experiences, your closest relationships, as well as the health of your heart.
Our experience at the 2017 West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix encapsulated these notions. This year the event celebrated its inaugural occurrence as a UCI cyclocross event and as a USAC ProCX event, in only its fourth consecutive year. The weekend of racing positively encourages health and competition at all levels, from beginner all the way to the top, allowing new racers to experiment, experienced racers to chase points, and it perpetuates the proper standards of equal prize money between men and women. Its addition to the UCI calendar augments the caliber of West Coast cyclocross in a meaningful way. All day, all weekend, local bands play on course in River Walk Park while local beer flows in the garden--the spectacle and inviting environment keep passersby engaged in cycling for hours.
(Huge shout-outs to Emily Kachorek and the Squid Bikes family for their efforts and commitment to help grow this event to what it is today, not to mention they killed it in both men's and women's UCI races both days. Also, we love your style.)
We welcomed this weekend, knowing the region was packed with new and old friends alike, and offered us one last chance at sunshine as the Pacific Northwest concurrently rolled into its winter blanket of gray clouds. We departed Bend and Portland respectively, and the three of us converged at our friend Michael's house, located just outside of the hubbub of Sacramento. Michael is a quiet yet wise-cracking, kind-hearted, artistically-gifted fella, and he welcomed us into his home, putting us at ease with pot after Chemex pot of coffee. He is also a rider for Team Clif Bar, and very familiar with the bike racer traveling circus dynamic. He and his friend Andrew (of similar excellent character) proceeded to spend the entire weekend with us, partnering in all of our endeavors and making life cozy.
Michael and Andrew are bike racers as well as photographers. They are also frequent collaborators--our short weekend with them yielded stories of highly curated art receptions in their office (they're co-workers, too), celebrating subjects of meaningful minutiae, encouraging their cohorts to get outside of themselves and their normal expectations for a work day--creative work done for the joy of it, and the benefit of the brain exercise.
They had just wrapped production on another such project just before we arrived in town: a zine full of poetry and film photography and a mission. The zine is entitled "Tuesday Serpentine: The South River Ride." It celebrates Sacramento's 30-year old weekly group ride that found its beginnings with Team Seven-Eleven and continues to this day. Tuesday Serpentine seeks to showcase the community-building, trial-by-fire aspect of the group ride, a weekly shared experience that welcomes beginners who are in turn nurtured by the more experienced, thereby perpetuating the sport. Michael and Andrew were inspired to create the zine after noticing a drop off in participation in the ride--the zine became another outlet to engage community and bring riders together. All proceeds from the zine are donated to the Sacramento Bike Park Project; you can pick up a copy here--do it for the kids.
Back to the cyclocross: the course was twisty and tricky both days, with plenty of sand and off-camber, slippery grass, and the heat was definitely a factor. Clara and Beth Ann achieved strong starts both days and battled fully through each forty minute race to race complete, focused races despite hiccups (never a small feat), with everything left out on the course. Our ladies achieved top-ten C2 finishes both days, with Clara riding to a 5th place podium spot on the second day.
Andrew and Michael were a huge part of our success this weekend and are a part of our hella familial racing community. They beautifully documented our weekend with various film formats and created the following photo essay (all photos are theirs). Please enjoy our story as told by them, through their lens--and pick up a copy of their zine if you're inclined.