Cyclocross World Champs Goes Up In Foam

USGP Cyclocross

Above: a shot from the dusty US Grand Prix of Cyclocross, held annually in the fall, here in Louisville. The riders up front will be representing Team USA this weekend!

It’s the last week of January, and the UCI Cyclocross World Championships are upon us! What is all that gibberish, you say? Let’s break it down:

  • UCI: Union de Cycliste Internationale / International Cycling Union (the group that oversees all world-class cycling events, from BMX to the Tour de France)
  • Cyclocross: A “cross” between road and mountain bikes, gaining popularity rapidly, that engages riders on short courses over sand, grass, and mud. The racing season is typically early fall to late January
  • World Championship: The race that decides who is the world champion for the 2013-2014 season; in other words, a big fucking deal!

Bike racing is great an all, but why it this suddenly so important? Because it’s being held right here in Louisville, Kentucky! In fact, less than 5 miles from my house, at our dedicated cyclocross facility, Eva Bandman Park. Preparations have been going on for, well, years (Louisville won the bid back in 2010), but in the last few months things have been moving fast. I spent the last two weekends helping set up the course, and in fact there are two distinct courses: the one at Eva Bandman for the World Champs, and a separate course just down the road for the Masters World Championships. “Masters” in cyclocross indicates a racer over 30, broken up into age groups of 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, etc. They’ll race on a different course, for slightly less time, but with a similar level of prestige.

The World Championships for “elite” men and women, are, however, of very, very high prestige. Consider the race in 2012 race held in the town of Koksijde, Belgium. An estimated 60,000 people turned out over the course of the two days, which is a lot even when you consider the fanaticism of Belgians and their love of all things cycling. Will we have 60k crazed fans? Unlikely. But the official Louisville 2013 twitter account claims upwards of 5,000 per day, plus the residual from Masters Worlds, and hey, who knows? There’s a giant buzz going around, and of course social media is leading the cause:

Among the crazy hubbub of the week, including the Belgian team heading to a Cards game (snapped by local cycling star and blogger John Mandrola) and the giant signs at the airport and on cars, the craziest by far is the phenomenon known as “Louisville 2013 Foam Party.” Perhaps you know it better by its title, #Louisville2013FOAMPARTY” as Twitter has been going nuts with that hashtag for several days now. A foam party is, by all accounts, a giant rave with foam (yes, like the bath kind) shooting everywhere, causing general mayhem and wetness, but mix into this the grittier, no-fucks-given, party-all-night attitude of cyclocross, and you have the makings of a sensation.

Beyond that, the team behind this party was able to craft together a short, professional quality teaser video, interlacing shot of sexy girls dancing in foam with cyclocross racers. Does this appeal to the demographic? Hell yes it does. See for yourself:

Beyond that, The foam party people have been able to get @ mentions, rewteets, and shit loads of chatter from some high influencing twitter accounts. If you know much about Klout or the spread of twitter, this can mean good things for event promotion:

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KyMBA Louisville Envisions 100 Miles of Human-Powered Trails

What’s a “human powered trail?” Sounds weird, but fairly intuitive: anything that you, as a person, power, instead of a motor. This means mountain biking, jogging, walking, perhaps even pogo-sticking if you could manage it. Billy Davis of KyMBA Louisville outlines the plan for what would be the east’s first 100-mile single track trail in this short presentation:

 

As someone who has walked, ridden, and jogged through the various of trails of Cherokee Park, I can say for a fact that KyMBA knows how to maintain a trail quite well. And since the volunteers are typically fellow mountain bike riders, they make some pretty sick passages for the knobby tire crowd as well.

Futuristic Bike Stuff

Even though I post mostly about vegan and environmental stuff, I still love bikes! So check out these awesome projects:

Revolights. Join the Revolution” just got a ton of Kickstarter backing (like $200k!) to produce these totally awesome rim-mountable lights for bikes. They have a little sensor inside to always face the lights forwards or backwards, depending on which wheel they’re on, and are waaaay brighter than any light out there right now. Super cool!

The Inner City Bike just looks cool. It’s minimalist and contains the crank/cog/cassette/wheel all-in-one! Read more:

The inner city bike was designed by JRUITER + studio as a project asking questions about ultra short inner city travel. What is needed, who is riding, and how far are they going. At first glance it was a fun aesthetic opportunity in new trends, color, and materials. Our target lived / worked in an inner city environment with minimal space. Bicycling at this level can be more about fashion and culture than speed and performance.

Lastly, Ford has come out with this crazy electric bike, the “E-Bike Concept” that can apparently travel up to 53 miles on a single charge, at speeds up to 15.5 mph. I’m all for pedaling, but if this will help lessen our dependence on cars and fossil fuels, then hell yeah! Plus, it looks kinda sweet.

Now go ride your bike!

Photo via 42 Concepts

Moving Planet, Moving Louisville – September 24

Spurred by 350.org and their climate-changing actions, this year Louisville will have its own Moving Planet event, a “day to move beyond fossil fuels.” The idea is to congregate at a central location on foot, by bike, skates, or some other form of “clean” transportation (bus or carpool being the lesser alternative) and support initiatives for lessening our dependence on fossil fuels in our respective communities.

Louisville’s own celebration is happening on Saturday, September 24 (same as the national day of action) at the Jefferson Square Park (6th and Jefferson) in downtown Louisville at 4:00pm. The organizers (who recently got arrested as part of  the Tar Sands protests – way to go guys!) write:

Rally with us at 4 pm as we ask the Mayor to support a list of “LocalMotions” that would reduce our transportation-based fossil fuel use, clean our air, and enhance our community. There will be music, surprises, and more!

Come be part of the Louisville manifestation of a world-wide movement to wean our world off fossil fuels…for the sake of human beings and all life on our moving planet.

For those wishing to ride together or walk together, there will be meet-ups at Bike Couriers Bike Shop in Clifton, Heine Bros. Douglas Loops and Heine Bros. Longest Ave, as well as the Green Building. You can RSVP and get more info by visiting the Facebook event or sign-up directly here.

Louisville, let’s do this!

Brain-Shifting Bikes and Faithless Commentary

Some great finds over the weekend:

Parlee, a high-end road bike manufacturer, has come up with a way to shift your bike using your brain. It integrates Shimano’s ultra-cool electronic Di2 shifting system, along with an iPhone app, letting you shift on the fly just by thinking about switching to a higher or lower gear. No need for shifting cables! See Mashable’s take, “Bicycle Of The Future Shifts Gears Via Brain Waves” and read the comments of the people who are quite offended by this progression of technology! Surprising to me, considering they’re commenting on an Internet website.

Next is the brilliant work of Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski, who splendidly comments on globalization, speciesism, religion, and politics through a myriad of satirical and poignant drawings. Visual News’ post “Drawing on World Issues: These Make You Think” displays about 20 of them and while a few made me chuckle, others are almost horrifying. Thanks to Jolly Green for the heads-up on this.

Lastly, check out New Statesmen’s “Faith No More,” a great summary of quotes from non-believers about why they don’t believe in a higher power. There are the usual suspects like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, as well as other prominent scientists, and some less well-known authors. One of my favorite quotes is from British writer Kenan Malik:

Invoking God at best highlights what we cannot yet explain about the physical universe, and at worst exploits that ignorance to mystify. Moral values do not come prepackaged from God, but have to be worked out by human beings through a combination of empathy, reasoning and dialogue. This is true of believers, too: they, after all, have to decide for themselves which values in their holy books they accept and which ones they reject. And it is not God that gives meaning to our lives, but our relationships with fellow human beings and the goals and obligations that derive from them. God is at best redundant, at worst an obstruction. Why do I need him?