With a full tank of gas and a full mug of coffee I pointed my car to the east. The rolling hills of Pennsylvania, interrupted only by forgotten towns, go on endlessly through the grey winter landscape. My mind wonders from where I should try to find lunch to if anything can stand in the way of Stephen Hyde becoming the next National Champion?
I thought of the implications of the ex-BMX kid, bike touring vagabond becoming the next to take the jersey, to represent the best of what American cyclocross has to offer. It never really hit me until this morning, Stephen Hyde represents so many of us that started late, that came from the outside. The black scratchy ink that was likely scribbled by a friend onto his thigh that simply says “YEAH!” as if to answer the question ‘is this kid for real?’
From the first time I saw Hyde line up and take on the front of the elite field there was no doubt that he was for real, quickly asserting himself as a take no bullshit kind of rider. In the following weeks I would witness him take Jonathan Page to the last corner of Charm City CX in what can only be described as a street fight on two wheels to take his first UCI win. It wasn’t long until Hyde would find himself at the top of the sport in a never ending battle for supremacy against Jeremy Powers.
While last year in Asheville, NC, Hyde was poised as the underdog, it was clear that going into this past Sunday in Hartford, he was the favorite, having not lost to Powers since the opening weekend in Rochester. Hyde, unlike Katie Compton, almost seemed to go out of his way to make his path to victory more difficult than it needed to be, with crashes on the icy ruts that lead to an exhaustive chase in the opening laps, to finishing on a flat tire and a rear derailleur that had detached itself from the bike all while Jamey Driscoll was closing in. Hyde however would not be denied.
In the coming weeks we will get to see Stephen Hyde race in the red white and blue as he takes on the last of the season’s races in Europe. He will represent American cyclocross, he will represent the weirdos and the punks, the BMX kids and the skaters, the thousands of us that have found a home in cyclocross. He will represent what is possible when you dedicate yourself totally to something and that barriers are meant to be broken down.