by Jamie Mack
There is no shortage of support among the riders in the mid-Atlantic, from tired racers working the pits for teammates and strangers to the camaraderie of the training groups that transcend team kits and sponsor affiliations. The riders of the Mid-Atlantic may not reside in one of the true cyclocross hotbeds, but they have formed a tightly-knit community that’s the hallmark of ‘cross culture. That community is banding together to make sure that one of their own can make the trip to the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic.
The Mid-Atlantic also has no shortage of talented riders. Jeff Bahnson (Thule-Van Dessel) has been cruising through Europe with the other EuroCrossCampers on his way to the World Championships in Tabor. Matt Spinks (Team Plan C-Stevens) is making his mark as well on the same courses. The C3-Athletes Serving Athletes squad is prominent on podiums throughout the region, thanks in no small part to Laura Van Gilder. The veteran road rider turned her attention to ‘cross last year and has already made an indelible mark on the sport and the community. LVG has a road racing career that spans nearly 20 years and over 250 victories, making her one of the most successful American women in cycling. Last year, LVG added a new challenge to her schedule and took on a full ‘cross season. After sweeping through most of the races on the East Coast, Van Gilder took fourth in her first ‘cross nationals and finished 19th against the best in the world. Mind you, that’s in her first season.
Now, back to that supportive community.
Van Gilder has been named to her second worlds team, heading to Tabor later this winter. The community is rallying behind her to ensure her arrival on the course, but also to show the world what this little region of the US is capable of. Some of her supporters here in the Mid-Atlantic are bringing together a grassroots effort to support their “hometown” rider. In their own words…
“Undoubtedly many of you know/have heard that Laura Van Gilder (Cresco, PA – C3-Sollay/Athletes Serving Athletes) has been nominated to the US Elite Women’s squad for the 2010 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic, Jan. 30-31. What we’re sure a lot don’t know is that financing the trip to Worlds is the athlete’s responsibility. And a trip to the Czech Republic to represent your country at the absolute pinnacle of your sport is not the most ‘inexpensive’ endeavor. So, a few us, shall we say, ‘less gifted’ athletes/cohorts…OK, hacks and instigators…have cobbled together a home-grown fund raising effort to send LVG over to Tabor for round 2.”
The effort is two-fold. Simple donations are being accepted, encouraged actually, through a fundraising web page.
But the community that these folks and LVG come from is a formed by riders and racers, so they are going a step further than simply asking for open checkbooks. They’re doing what they do best, or at least trying really hard, and putting on a race. Two races, actually: January 16th and 23rd, billed as the Emmaus Super Prestige Cyclocross Race. This isn’t some easy, off-season training event either; it’s a full-on, all-in, winner take all race. No categories to stress over, no sandbagging, just put your money down and see how you stack up. Races will be held at 1 pm each day at the Emmaus Recycling Center, with more details to come on the fundraising web page. Registration is on-site, day of only.
Everyone will be doing their best, in both the race and their fundraising efforts, to do their region proud and leave it all out there. Because they know that LVG will do the same for them.