The Big Picture: US Open Of Cyclocross

Friends. How many of us have them?

Spectators anticipate the arrival of the UCI elite women’s field.
Courtenay McFadden (right) leads Katie Clouse on day 2.

Big events always make me want to write a love letter to cyclocross. Everything that draws me in to begin with is always there, and then some: larger fields, harder competition, more friends — old and new. What’s not to like about more of a good thing?

Yannick Eckmann (left) and Fernando Riveros Paez battle on day 2.

Cross has provided, and continues to provide, a great mix of friends. Forging those friendships inside the tape is always special. Raging for an hour at the edge of your physical limits, rubbing elbows, being humbled, dishing out a decisive attack to win your group — the need to experience these things is something unique that we all share with each other.

The lead group of the UCI U23 field charges through on day 2.
Gage Hecht took over the lead from Grant Ellwood to squeak out a win on day 2.

We understand the need to come back and do it again the next week. Do it over and over again, week after week, year after year, and you forge a bond. It’s especially nice to see this transfer from the early races in the day all the way through the UCI elites.

Racers warm up on day 1.
Erin Huck (Cannondale-3Rox Racing), a short-track XC national champion on the mountain bike, took the UCI C2 win on day 1.

Sharing accounts of the race that just finished, sharing tent space for warm-ups, sharing life stuff that isn’t about bikes — it’s all part of what makes community. It’s what makes this game something we should all cherish, appreciate, and nurture. Hug your cyclocross friends the next time you see them. OK? See you next week.

While off the back, Brady Kappius took a beer handup and showed off some stair-hopping skills.
Georgia Gould on day 2.

More shots from two days of UCI-classified racing at the US Open of Cyclocross at Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, Colo.:

Maxx Chance leads the U23 field into the off-camber descent on day 1.
Ross Ellwood leads Denzel Stephenson.
Gage Hecht took the U23 win on both days. On day 1 he rode in solo.
Gage Hecht.
U23 national champion Lance Haidet had a chance to show off the stars and stripes on both days.
Grant Ellwood leads the U23 field on day 2.
Caroline Mani leads the women’s field on day 1.
Mani hits an off-camber descent on day 1.
Katie Clouse leads Sofia Gomez Villafane on day 1.
Courtenay McFadden (right) and Caroline Mani lined up next to each other on day 1.
McFadden — the eventual winner — and Mani had a front-row start on day 2 as well.
Cody Kaiser drives in the elite mens field on day 1.
Jamey Driscoll, winner of day 1, managed a fifth place on day 2.
Fernando Riveros Paez took second on day 2.
A young Boulder Junior Cycling racer stuck around on day 2.

All photos © 2017 Neil Schirmer.

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