Bike nuts weren’t the only ones to invade the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC last week for the 2016 USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships. Recover and the Western North Carolina Outdoor Gear Builders were also set up in Antler Village to tell the masses about all of the great outdoor products made in the Old North State.
What a week it was! When we weren’t talking to folks about sustainable apparel, we were taking in the races. By Sunday, we had watched everyone from Santa Claus to 12-straight National Champion Katie Compton take on “the best course in history,” a dangerous cocktail of brutal climbs, calf-deep mud, hairpin turns, bone-gnawing temperatures, “well-hydrated” hecklers, and more mud. We were introduced to riders like 4-time Men’s Elite Champion Jeremy Powers and Women’s Elite runner up Georgia Gould, who both turned in inspiring races at the highest level of cyclo-cross.
We also saw 9 and 10-year-old competitors carry bikes twice their size up a 70 degree grade. And grimaced as seasoned pros were hounded by grizzled, megaphoned fanatics when they wiped out on the treacherous descent down Bonk Breaker Hill.
We drank espresso shots on pit row with the folks from Rapha. We even heckled – everyone was doing it (!) – cyclists, including Santa, as they navigated their bikes around a sharp turn during the Donut Race. Which, by the way, involved racers of all skill levels eating donuts on every lap, at the risk of being disqualified for chunking them back up. Powerslide, indeed.
Needless to say, we loved learning more about this eccentric sport, meeting the competitors and their fans, and of course, working with our friends at the Western North Carolina Outdoor Gear Builders. Sign us up for the next one!