That's right. The National Championships...of cyclocross...were cancelled due to mud:
Ultimately the racing was rescheduled for today, but American cyclocross may never live down the irony inasmuch as mud is arguably the discipline's defining natural element. After all, isn't mud the whole reason the bike companies are telling us we need disc brakes on our cross bikes? (Sure, they don't work, but still.) Mud to cyclocross is like snow to skiing, or water to surfing, or weed to ultimate Frisbee. Many jokes were made on Twitter to this effect (mine in particular were especially hilarious), but some people with actual credibility who were invested in the event summed up the situation thusly:
This is exactly why a city needs to host a UCI CX race before getting a bid for USA Nationals. Confused as to how this happened #AustinCX15A fair and excellent point.
— Mo Bruno Roy (@meaux_marie) January 11, 2015
Responding to this sort of criticism, USA Cycling issued the sort of bullshit apology for which they are famous:
But of what use was this to the competitors and families who had traveled all the way to Austin from all over Canada's scranus and beyond, and who either had to leave without competing or else expend the time and resources to stay another day?
Hey, Austin's a great place to visit for a day or two, but once you've waited 45 minutes to eat a pulled pork sandwich off a food truck and watched those stupid bats on the Congress Street Bridge the city has nothing left to offer you. Believe me, I know. I've been there on multiple occasions, and I can assure you that despite its quirky tie-dyed veneer Austin is still very much in Texas:
I'm sure if you're a refugee from some other part of Texas it's quite the cultural oasis. However, if you're from an actual city then Austin is basically just a slightly artsier White Plains. If they want to "Keep Austin Weird" they better try harder, because even in today's sanitized New York City there's more weirdness in a typical Midtown Starbuck's.
But this isn't about culture, this is about competition. I take competitive cycling less seriously than just about anybody, but if you're the governing body of a sport and you can't provide your elite membership with a National Championships at approximately the time you promised it then you're failing at a pretty basic level. Sure, natural disasters and other acts of "god" were the exception, but this was simply an astounding lack of foresight on pretty much everybody's part:
The cycling event is an “intense” use of a park, even compared to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin Parks and Recreation Department director Sara Hensley said Sunday at a news conference.
“We just have to protect our park and particularly our trees, which we value so much in the city,” Hensley said. “None of us anticipated this kind of precipitation.”
So what kind of trees were these, anyway? Well, apparently these were "heritage" trees:
Zilker Park is no stranger to large events and the damage they sometimes leave behind. Park lovers and environmentalists have raised concerns the five-day Cyclo-cross Championships with about 1600 registered participants could have long-term repercussions on the root systems of heritage trees at the park.
If you're not familiar with arborist jargon, a "heritage" tree in Texas means it's white and comes from an Anglo-Saxon background. This means the tree is not only afforded special protection from bike racers, but it's also allowed to "open carry:"
If guns are outlawed, only invasive tree species will have guns.
Anyway, let's take a look at that ever-so-benign Austin City Limits Music music festival, shall we?
You're telling me a bunch of weenies riding around in circles is worse for the park than this?
Well, I guess they have to Keep Austin Fratty.
By the way, Austin City Limits is, in a circuitous way, sort of a Lance Armstrong production (or at least a Bros of Lance Armstrong production), and the former two-time Critérium du Dauphiné winner did offer some wayward cyclocross racers succor for the night:
Got some riders placed for the night. All full now. Best of luck to all those competing tomorrow. #cxnats2015I don't know who those riders were, but I suspect they'll be summoned to doping control immediately upon arriving at the venue.
— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) January 11, 2015
In other news, here's the smartphone-controlled e-bike conversion kit of your dreams:
Looks great. You'll be dominating the sidewalk in no time.