Louisville’s ‘Cross Course Under Siege…by Stimulus Package?

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The Louisville USGP course is endangered by the stimulus package. by David Crimson

by Aaron Hawkins

Word spread quickly through the cycling channels here in Louisville that our beloved cyclocross grounds would be making way for more soccer fields and swing-sets.  The news first broke through our local cycling forums,and it has been the talk of the cycling community since it broke our hearts on Wednesday.

An article in Louisville’s local newspaper delivered the sad news that stimulus money will help to develop our park.  Yes, that may sound great, but the plan is to develop our park into more soccer fields, a dog park, playgrounds and picnic areas.  Cyclocross is being bumped from the very place that launched Louisville’s ‘cross scene, and we’re being bumped, rather dumped, into a reclaimed landfill down the street.  It’s a sad day where bikes are displaced for park features that can be found all over the city.  A suitable cyclocross facility is not something you come across every day.  While this is not uncommon that cycling amenities are being wiped from the landscape by metro governments; it seems odd that Louisville wants to push it’s bike-friendly living and destroy it at the same time.

Louisville has been on the brink of national recognition and success with the cycling community for the past few years, and cyclocross was exactly what it needed to put itself over the top.  The community is peppered with cyclists of all ages, backgrounds, including some stars and stripes bearers.  Its a fiercely competitive town, and some of Louisville’s cyclists are know nationwide, and some have left impacts in across the globe.

In the past two years, Ironman has visited, Master’s Road Nationals swept through, and of course, the USGP.  Its a sleeper city; no one expects Louisville to have such a large and deep cycling pool.  Once you’re here a few times though, you notice the packs of riders each weeknight, the huge Tuesday Night Worlds crowd, you hear about the great Red Zone Juniors program, and you see the hoards of triathletes crushing it down River Road.  You also see the dust clouds of riders down at our park, testing each other’s will and handling skills each Wednesday night starting in August, and finishing the season in the mud come December.

This is a call to everyone that has come to Louisville, raced here, ridden here, and felt at home here.  Everyone that I’ve spoken to about coming to Louisville for the USGP’s, has been extremely positive, and say that they always look forward to coming back.  I’m one of those people that came back and stayed.  I moved to Louisville because of its cyclocross scene.  It’s only 4 hours from “home”, but Louisville was a chance to be in a new cyclocross mecca that was just beginning to take shape.  This March will mark my first year here in Louisville, and its amazing how big cyclocross has grown; but it is a markedly greater shock as to what’s to come.

Everyone that loves coming to Louisville to race, please make your voice heard.  We need to save River Road Country Club, as it is the home for the USGP stop, the launch pad for most of our Junior cyclists, and the proven training grounds to all that live here.  I doubt anyone would let Gloucester vanish, lets make sure that RRCC doesn’t.

Please respond here with a comment below on Cyclocross Magazine, or  respond on our forum on bikeclicks or to me via email.  Your opinions and concerns will be directed to the right people!

 

 

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14 comments
DLetterman
DLetterman

I can't believe that the city fathers of Louisville would think of doing damage to something that brings thousands of visitors to their city. I for one, and many more of my friends from TN and NC, would probably not travel to Louisville otherwise. It's a five hour drive from where I live. This past fall there were 6 in our group alone. We stayed in a hotel for two nights, ate our meals at restaurants there, and bought gas, around 500.00 total. Multiply that by the number of people that came to the race, most of whom were out of town, that's a lot of income into the local economy. Why, in these economic times, would anyone take away something that puts heads in beads especially during an otherwise off time of the year. In cyclo-cross, as a promoter myself, the venue and course are two of the most important aspects of a cross race. Whey risk loosing something that gives your city national, and international acclaim? How many soccer fields do communities need? Come on, show some foresight city fathers and promote something that is growing and offers a different choice to youths. Not all of them want to kick a ball. Cyclo-cross makes it much more of an activity for the entire family than other sports. You don't see many parents running down the field at the same time as their kid, but you do see moms and dads racing on the same course as junior, sometimes during the same race. Tie yourself to a star that's on a rise, cyclo-cross.

mcc
mcc

Yes, Bobrow. I agree entirely. It's not about losing races; we will find another home. It's more about maintaining our spot within the community. Aaron poignantly pointed out that the Louisville cycling scene is really coming out - Ironman, Master's Nats, Sawyer BMX, etc. 'Cross is something that we are very proud of within that community, and RRCC is certainly a major part of what helped to build that identity for all of the reasons that both Aaron and Bobrow have mentioned.

rbobrow
rbobrow

Great post Aaron and it's nice to see all of the ideas. We'll use them.

But it's important for everyone to know that no one has said the USGP is in jeopardy of not using RRCC in 2009.

And it's also important that everyone know that if Louisville cross loses RRCC, we'll find the USGP another home.

The impact of losing RRCC is less about hurting racing and more about hurting our cross scene. Since 2005, we've used RRCC to build a cross scene here in Louisville from the ground up. It's great for learning to ride, training, kids' cross, and racing. It's accessible and safe. TO illustrate the impact RRCC has had, ask yourself if you heard of Louisville cross in 2004? I'm sure the answer is "no."

So the tragedy of losing RRCC would be that we'd lose our home base and that will hurt the growth of cross in Louisville.

RDB

Surly
Surly

Here's the bumper sticker:

MY KID'S SOCCER FIELD KICKED YOUR KID'S CYCLOCROSS COURSE INTO THE DUMP.

Nice tone MCC but I think this is going to really impact cross on a lot of levels. And talking is nice but what's really needed here is money for a study, engineering plans, and a cost presentation, all on a fast track. Sounds like the city already has a plan, so that will be tough to overturn. We brought nearly twenty people to Louisville for three days just this last year. If you lose that park you'll lose one of big the drawing cards this race had. Many of us who have enjoyed this race are sending emails detailing how much $$$ we brought to town, etc., and how we think the kid's program is so great to the city and people who can use them. Will it help? I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath.

mcc
mcc

I think the point here is absolutely NOT that races of any caliber - national or local - are at stake, so do not fret. Erase those thoughts entirely; we love 'cross, and that's not going anywhere! I think the issue is more related to talking about how these spaces should be used, and making sure that folks are stepping up to make things happen. As someone earlier stated, this could be the verge of something great for Louisville cycling.

Dan Seaton
Dan Seaton

Here in Belgium a lot of 'cross courses are built around soccer pitches, and take advantage of the infrastructure that these fields provide. (Most soccer fields here come complete with stands, changing rooms & showers, cafes where one can watch the action in relative warmth.) The course use the surrounding terrain and roads, and the result is really great. So this development doesn't necessarily mean doom for the Louisville USGP. You guys should get involved now, make the case for why this race is so important to the local community, and see if you can develop a design that would allow soccer, playground, and 'cross all to coexist and share the space to everybody's benefit.

elgee
elgee

Well now, this is some great feedback in a short amount of time. I've never been to Louisville, would love to check it out sometime, and hopefully it will be to race CX. HEY LOUISVILLE, take serious note of the above words and get to it! I'll bet you can turn this into something really community building if you start today, right now. CrossVegas is run at a soccer complex and look what has happened there, hell, look at this way, you now have a potential NIGHT CYCLOCROSS venue. Oh, and by the way, CultCross 2009 is in two weeks!

stickboy
stickboy

I love the USGP course in Louisville. I am with Larry Grossman in that I believe that a cyclocross facility can coexist with a soccer complex. In my mind, some of the best cross courses can be laid out in soccer/baseball complexes between the fields. Most of the people driving the decisions understand baseball and soccer, but don't get cycling. I have found though, that they generally welcome the views and opinions of cyclists. This could be a great opportunity for the cycling community in Louisville to rally together, get involved with the design of the park, and be a model for layout of future parks.

Julie Lockhart
Julie Lockhart

Get a coalition of the 'local' bicycle clubs, and get USA Cycling to add some muscle to a proactive plan to 'keep' the best CX features, and to design the fields so they can become part of the challenges.

Someone with race planning skills (many people if possible - Tom Stevens for instance) could become part of the planning and design phase of the 'renovation'. I am sure there are very skilled race planners in the Louisville 'locality'. By local to Louisville I mean any club, shop, cyclist ... anyone with an interest in CX is local. I am in Massachusetts, have been to Louisville twice to race, and was looking forward to competing in CX in the future.

Stay strong, and get involved NOW. What can the extended CX community do to help???

Surly
Surly

You could have gotten money if the park needed to be made, but since it was "finished" you couldn't get more $$$$. It's just "make work." Maybe they could could have gotten some Stimulus money to build the world's tallest Fly-over ... that would be ridiculous enough ...

kiwi nick
kiwi nick

Too bad someone didn't make a bike park proposal as an "earmark" in the stimulus package. Then again Pres. Barry is a b'baller, W rode a bike.

Surly
Surly

Too bad, but that's what you get when you just "make work" to spend money and give it away for any hair-brained scheme you can think of. Having been there both year's I've had the opportunity to drive around and see the "miles," of soccer fields that are already in place on three sides of the 'cross park. The worst part is that they've got a beautiful cross youth program going that's going to take it in the neck. I'll bet the city needed a project to get the money fast and this was the easiest spot to stick a shovel in. I doubt there will be swing-sets and dog runs - it's going be flat soccer fields - somewhere you can put some money into some serious dozer time.

Elgee
Elgee

Sounds like soccer fields and swingsets would be fun to race around to me. Why dont you guys/gals get a coalition together, start pounding the town meetings and ask your commssioners to help "design" the park so you can still run CX races, maybe YOU can get some of the stimilus money, how sweet would that be? I think it's worht a shot.

Larry Grossman
CultCross Promoter

Ryan Douglas
Ryan Douglas

Make the economic argument. Outline the money that this race(s) brings to the local community, i.e., surrounding small businesses. Get out and talk with the local businessess that support this race and the business that brings them. You want to stop this from happening you need to show the Mayor/City Council that they are cutting a revenue source to add a cost to the cities budget.

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