Reflecting back on Cyclocross Nationals there were many memorable moments. Not everyone experienced a championship-winning ride, but nearly everyone we spoke with enjoyed the venue, course and experience. Over a number of days we’ll share some of those moments on the course at the Biltmore Estate. Today we’re taking a look at the 2016 Donut Race.
Held Friday afternoon as the last event of the day before the weekend’s racing, the Donut Race, at first blush, felt like a contrived afterthought to us. After all, with so many calling for a move back to December for Nationals, adding yet another event to an already long week in January seemed, well, like trying too hard. What was the purpose of adding one more thing to an already packed schedule?
This was especially true given the nature of the event. After all, this was a USA Cycling event, not SSCXWC. And while the thought of racing while consuming copious amounts of fried and glazed dough struck us as in keeping in-line with generally accepted vibe of American cyclocross, the idea of the sport’s governing body putting it on seemed, well, like getting your parents’ permission to party.
In the end, the event was fantastic from what we saw and what participants and spectators told us on site. It was as serious as you’d expect a donut race to be, complete with someone racing dressed as a unicorn, a racer in a Santa suit and what appeared to be a laid-back beach going ‘crosser. The “officials” weren’t doing much more than laughing, and handing out donuts lap after lap, and even USA Cycling’s CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall got in on the fun taking to the course and giving us a mid-race, mid-donut interview. In case you missed it:
And it wasn’t just the “racers” having a good time. The Donut Race brought out crowds to enjoy the spectacle. And there was even a bit of finish results controversy thrown in for good measure, with Reid Bolani looking to have won with a fast ride and eight-donut consumption performance, but Kent Ross leading the official results and walking away with the Kask helmet prize.
For all the seriousness of the racing during the championship events, this was an easy, clever way to make sure the week had an element of frivolity and fun. The best part was that entry fees for the event supported a local Asheville non-profit. A veritable win-win for all involved.
While we still tend to think the championship week is too long and in the wrong month, and perhaps there are too many events connected to the title races, this one we have a soft, jelly-filled spot for.