Friday, October 25, 2013

Hey, You Suck!

In cyclocross, there's a strong tradition of heckling competitors. This is a parodox, because cycling is already a painful race. Incredibly painful. You'd think because of this a little encouragement would be in order. Nope. Just pain and shouting.

Except for the brainless tedium of a road race's time trial, I submit that cyclocross racing is the most painful of all cycling. There's simply no break from the raw pain. In 'cross races, one manages their red-line for 60 minutes while punching up snarky hills, through greasy off-camber turns, and dismounting and running through barriers. The weather is chilly and quite often clammy. If you're lucky(?) the course is dry, but is usually muddy. Or icy. Or an icy-muddy rut field quagmire.

BikeSnobNYC sums it up best:

Cyclocross. Do it wrong, and it'll be the coldest, muddiest, most painful hour of your life. Do it right, and it'll be the coldest, muddiest, most painful hour of your life. It'll also be the most fun you'll have on your bike all year. Cold, mud, and pain are non-negotiable. —BikeSnobNYC

All this and heckling too?

As an infrequent cx racer, I remembered the physical pain. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the heckling. As it was, I was barely coping with the physical stress. The jeering at my last place during a recent race didn't bode well. Not at all.

A few days later, some of us were riding cx laps at the park. During a break, Randy Crist asked me if I had a bad start at the race. While relating the early troubles I was having, I also mentioned being annoyed by the incessant heckling at the race.

Lucas perked up. "You mean you took it personally?"

Lucas' questioning was like a tight slap in the face.

Well since then, I've been asking around about the cyclocross heckling culture. Apparently, heckling is part of the cx deal. I just need to suck it up if I don't like it. Otherwise, I should consider sticking to triathlons, because there's lots of coddling going on over there. At any rate, these two cyclocross primers  (#1, #2) are worth a quick read, especially if you're new to the sport and/or are as plain ignorant and thin-skinned as I was.

Perhaps this heckling culture is best summed up by our resident world champion, Mark Savery:

Ok fine. I'm good with this now.

Whew. It's been a productive couple weeks around here nailing down these tacit cyclocross rules. Last week, it took us 20 comments to get a call up list strategy put together. This week, heckling.

With that, I'm now ready for the remainder of the 'cross season. Call me up or not, jeer at me, spray beer in my face. Whatever. Do your worst.

Happy Friday Everyone


  1. Heckling and being made fun of are different. One is OK, the other shouldn't be done by anybody who is officially involved in putting on the race.

  2. Brady,
    I am hurt that you didn't remember or acknowledge my cheering for you each lap. From now on I shall heckle and yell bad things about you and your bike......

  3. So my story the other day about what Lefler said. That was a perfect example of the sort of thing an announcer should say. It was about 10 years ago. I was on my way to clinching my 3rd last place cyclocross finish in a row. I tripped over a barier and faceplanted nito the mud. Lefler said, "That's Hinsley for ya'. Anything to get attention."

    I was having a miserable time, but that really cheered me up. Oh yeah and you suck.

  4. sorry - typing is difficult for me with that one finger wrapped up. but you get the idea.

  5. Flanders, I heard your cheers. I did appreciate them. My apologies for only focusing on the negatives. I give you permission to break from the norm and continue cheering for me and others. Anyway, I bet you suck at jeering; you're too nice. But who knows until you try? Good luck!

    Fred, I propose another tacit addition: The Call-Back rule. It goes like this:

    For those who suck really really bad -- those who get unquestionably heckled the most, for those who faceplant at barriers, or those who consistently place in the bottom 5% of races, they should be called backwards to the last row before any of the call ups occur. The call-back shall be done without apology or any sense of humility, preferably over the PA system with a five second pause between each call back to allow the proper amount of insults and derogatory comments to be leveled at the participant from those gathered, including but not limited to spectators, racers, officials, announcers and small children (pets too, provided that they can speak on command).

    The Starting Order shall go like this:
    1) Call-Backs
    2) Call-Ups, starting with Mark Savery
    3) Former USAC World Champions
    4) Former WWE Champions (Undisputed, then Intercontinental)
    5) Preregistered w/USAC points
    6) Day-of, taller than 5'9
    7) Day-of, shorter than 5'9 related to a race official
    8) Draw lots

    1. I just want to be in there somewhere. I cannot wait for the next race (that I attend)!

  6. At Oakley Nitecao I was told I by one of the GSV's that her grandma's camel hopped better than me.

    Still don't know what that means but I obviously have a lot of work to do.

  7. Bryan's comment hits home for me, and has prompted some reflection. And to think I *thought* I had toned down the heckling a lot since last year. I'd submit that the difference between friendly heckling and "being made fun of" is a fine line, it is indeed a fine line of which an event representative should be vigilant.

  8. One of the benefits of cyclocross over other disciplines is that it is so spectator friendly... onlookers can see most of the course, as well as the goofy mistakes that often occur. The goal is to make it as entertaining (and sometimes informative) as possible, and that means jokes sometimes at the expense of a performer. But remember, its the gladiator that counts-- not the court jester. And suitably, I'd say the gladiator doesn't even concern him or herself with the lowly activities of the jester.

  9. Something like this quote comes to mind. Also, I think I've been hanging out with EOB too much... need less writing, smaller words, more riding.