Last night I went to my first cross race. No racing, just hanging out. It was the best race I had ever been to, hands-down.
The Urban Outlaw Cyclocross Series is an underground cyclocross race in San Francisco. Nobody knows the location up until the day before the event and you race free if you cross-dress. The series is in it’s 17th year (I think) and going strong. Racers crowd the start line every week, some in dresses, some in wool, some on absolute beater bikes and some on this year’s carbon mountain bikes. The whole show is put on by DFL and is a wonderfully concocted masterpiece of San Francisco bike culture.
I got to the park just before the start and hustled up a field with #shitbike on my shoulder, and readied my camera for the chaos that was about to ensue. Some guy yells “ok go!” and the front-runners launch up the hill. I kept an eye out for the TCB boys and heckled as they went by. About a hundred cyclists funneled through the small bike path into Crocker Amazon Park, into a maze of corners partially marked with sticks, through a course dotted with spectators and beer hand-out-ers.
I was surprised to see all the spectators. There were half a dozen at every corner yelling and taking photos. The environment was completely different from a road race. A certain air of comradery surrounded the park. It wasn’t long before I was offered a beer by one of the TCB boys. I took a swig, shot a couple frames, yelled at a couple men in dresses and realized just how awesome this whole thing was. Here are a bunch of fully grown men and women rolling around a park while cross-dressed, chugging beers on the course and shouting obscenities and having a great time, while the equivalent aged road racer is at home counting how many calories are on his plate.
The race went on and on. Laps around this part of the park and that part too. Guys started taking “beer-breaks” with us and cutting corners as they made their way back into the race.
The race ended and stories were told. A good number of men had been taken out by a bee attack, flats were blamed for poor finishing places, the course was approved my everyone as a great starter to the season. I don’t even know who won, and I’m not sure it matters. The race started and fun was had, the race ended and the evening started. When the sun dipped below the hill, we packed up for a slow cruise down Mission to get some food and drink.
A quick trip to Yamo for some noodles and then off to Benders for a brew or two. Capping a night of racing and good times with a couple pints of Pliny, I was sure I had discovered something amazing in cyclocross racing. I drunkedly hopped on my trusty steed and headed home. I’m looking forward to the continuation of the Urban Outlaw Series and plan on hitting every one I can. Keep an eye out for #shitbike