Very Muddy Old Mill Cyclocross Action Indeed
Last weekend there was some nasty, muddy, windy, cold cycling action to watch in The Old Mill District. The Cyclocross National Championships were in Bend for the second straight year. Last year I didn't really know much about the event and missed it, kicking myself thoroughly afterwards. So, when I knew it was coming back last weekend, I printed up a race schedule and picked the days I wanted to go watch and photograph. Honestly, I wasn't sure if Elite featured better riders than Masters, or what U23 meant when I first glanced at the schedule (Under 23). But seriously, I knew enough about cyclocross that riders got messy, the courses were insane as well as the spectators. Sounded like all of best the ingredients for interesting photography. I waited until Saturday afternoon for my first race. My first big mistake was not looking at a course map beforehand. If you didn't know the course, it was very confusing. There were a few sections that you could follow the riders and see where they were heading, but the course was big enough that usually once the riders passed you, there was a lot of time spent waiting for them to come around again. If waiting around wasn't your thing you could pick some random direction and hope it would lead you towards impending action. Saturday was not the best weather day either. When I woke up and looked outside the window, it looked like a blizzard. By the afternoon it turned to rain, which really made for one wet and muddy, and very nasty course. There was a delay on the race I watched, due to the course being too wet in places. Wonderful.
If you stayed close to the food court, massive stairs for the riders, and starting line it wasn't too bad. The grass near the food vendors was very saturated and I looked around to see if I could spot any lost shoes or children.
But, if you ventured out to the muddy sections of the course, it got nasty fast.
I probably entered the course at the worst possible location and had either the option of walking through thick mud, through endless puddles, or over piles of large boulders. Not exactly a carefree Saturday stroll. I also made the mistake of walking up steep hills (more than once), only to find out that I would have to slide down the same place I went up. It's not like I was the lone fool exploring the wilderness either, there were masses of people everywhere. And probably more than half of all the spectators were photographers. I started to get a foul taste in my mouth, when I kept having to double back on my route, or had to spend most of my time carefully watching my steps to miss puddles and mud that would suck my shoes off. Also, it was damn cold and windy. Simply put, it was a miserable day to be outside.
The cold temperatures also discouraged many of the zany spectator costumes, so there was little of that to witness as well. Parkas and mittens didn't do it for me.
I went back home, cold and somewhat frustrated by the weather and the confusing course. On Sunday I decided to go back for a women's race. Thankfully, this day was much warmer and much drier. I didn't have to wear nearly as much warm weather gear and I also learned some things about the course from the previous day, so I knew where I wanted to be and where I would avoid. I also brought my external flash for my camera this time (which I mistakenly didn't bring with me the previous day). Things would be better.
The warmer weather certainly brought out more zany spectators. There was one guy only wearing briefs and a mask who was running around the course. I was almost tempted to chase him down for some photos, but I liked the spot I was in, and decided against losing it.
The racing action was also very good. I think the cold on the previous day kept me from really enjoying it, so this time I took in all of the muddy goodness that was to be seen.
I encourage you to check out more my photos on Flickr, where you can see larger versions with much more details like muddy nose hair and gritty teeth. Photos from the men's races and photos from the women's races are up. Enjoy.
Posted by monkeyinabox ::: |
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