2016 was a year of just the most unlikely-as-hell thing actually happening. The Cubs won the World Series. Matthew Hayman won Paris-Roubaix. The Brits voted to leave the EU. Donald Trump won. There was a cyclocross race in New York City.
But unlike Brexit and President Trump and The Cubs Win, which can be attributed to a bunch of vague and maddening things, Rainey Park Cyclocross happened because both Keith Garrison and Austin Horse, and a small dedicated of New York bicycle folks made it happen. They rule and if you see them please give them a hug or a high-five.
So yeah, a cyclocross race. In New York City. For the first time in five years. On New Year's Eve. And it all came together in the span of something like two weeks? Incredible. After Supercross, I didn't think I'd be racing cyclocross until next September. But seeing Keith and Austin pull this thing together, and to see all the excitement around it, it was infections. It would be dumb not to race.
Goddamn it was so much fun. Even though I hadn't really been riding or training seriously for the past month. And even though I was an idiot and messed up my knee with some stupid self-inflicted fit changes. And even though I'd be racing against insanely strong riders like Tim Willis and Roger Aspholm in my very first 60-minute race. I had so much goddamn fun.
The course was dope. It stretched to the edges of Rainey Park, winding through tricky off-cambers, muddy turns, and a leg-breaking climb seasoned with a set of Belgian steps. It sounds kind of obvious and dumb, but it felt like cyclocross course. A good cyclocross course, even.
The crowd was dope. Again, I'm going to sound dumb, but it all just felt so positive. Most of us slogged through a whole season, from September to December, and I think we were all just so damn happy to cap it off racing on the very last day of the year in our own city. People actually showed up just to watch. Just to watch! They came on weird and cool bikes and they ate some free Clif bars and they cheered and heckled and stuck around for most of the day.
And the smile on Keith's face was pretty dope. For those that don't know him, almost every Wednesday in the fall Keith is out at Randall's Island Park running cyclocross practice. He's usually the first to arrive to set the course up, and usually the last one to leave after breaking it down. One time I broke a chain at practice and he gave me a ride home. Not to get overly sentimental or anything, but to see this race go off as well as it did, and to see him grinning like an idiot all throughout the day was probably the highlight of my year. I guess it was a not-so-subtle reminder that good things can happen to good people.