Oft has this ancient philosophical question been asked: If a bike race goes down in DC and no one is there to hear it, did it actually happen?
That's the normal question we ask ourselves after a race, but that question need not be asked of DCCX. There was a veritable Renn-fest of spectators strolling around and enjoying the race. This was absolutely shocking to me.
First, I didn't know DC cared about bike racing. The biggest races in DC are not in DC--they're in Clarendon and Crystal City. Slightly more than fifty people show up to watch these events. Unfortunately, because they're NRC races, most of MABRA can't participate in these races, so we don't care a whole lot about who wins.
Our races, MABRA races, happen in DC's figurative closet space--in regional industrial parks (e.g., Bowie, Chantilly) and in areas way beyond the suburbs, in coastal Maryland, Page County, and Washington County. We are safely hidden away in places sure to not give a crap about city folk on tights on bikes. If you think spectators come to these races intentionally, for reasons other than to spread tacks on the road, you're delusional. They occassionally show up, sure--to lob tacks on the course.
But wait a minute here, what the hell went down in the woods on DC's north side in that 50 acre area for the rehabilitation of our veterans whose entrance is guarded by a three-headed dog?
Because I swear I heard a bunch of yelling and the smell of beer was strong. And I swear people were eating french fries (this is America; those who use the term frites can take their woolen jerkins and hump back to whatever socialist unmanaged-debt Euro-zone region universal health care non-football playing cafe Slurpee-free zone birthed them).
And I swear, there were people on bikes, in full kits, riding around between ribbons and trying to go as fast as possible.
And this is the really, really crazy part--there were several hundred people cheering. I'm not talking golf clapping. I'm talking the Cleveland Browns doghouse berzerkers, up drinking Wild Turkey since 4:00am fans.
And the best part of it was, I was part of the hooliganism, not the hooligan'ed:
I didn't have to try to hang on Dombrowski's wheel;
I didn't contest the sprint with Kimani;
I didn't, like Kat Klausing, finish in the top ten in two races;
I didn't, like Pete Warner, wonder what the hell kind of trajectory led me from world class triathlete to pack fodder in a pack of bearded fools;
I didn't, like Nick Sachanda, find myself an elephant in a grocery bag forced to daintily navigate tiny obstacles (e.g., trees) rather than obliterating them;
I was able to motivate/shout profanity at a lot of clowns I normally compete against;
I enjoyed a free apple and a free beer in a complimentary cooling cozey, courtesy of MABRA's BAR also-ran, Tim Brown;
I was able to see, and deride the unfortunate four act play, silent, of the 1/2/3 men's winner, who spent the last lap trying to dramatize some kind of Sophocles or something, the meaning of which was lost on me.
In any case, I never get to see what goes on at the finish line because I'm way in the back, having pretended to puncture a tire or something, so maybe four-act silent dramas are the standard celebrations these days. Is that the case?
I guess it's unimportant, really, because we were having fun, and that's what sporting events are all about. And a bike race, believe it or not, is a sporting event, and these things can be held in DC.
Unfortunately, the only one left to us takes place on dirt.