The concept of heckling has been a part of cyclocross since its more “alternative” days, but in recent years, we have seen several instances of it negatively impacting riders’ enjoyment of the sport.
In 2013, we reported on a local series where insults were regularly directed at beginners; in 2014, several European riders were unhappy when fans at CrossVegas poured beer on them; and this season, an announcer at Jingle Cross insulted female riders during their races.
However, during Sunday’s race, she had heckling directed at her that soured her enjoyment of the weekend.
McFadden wrote about the experience on her blog.
To the man who yelled (multiple times throughout the race) “McFadden is going to McFade”, you have no right to make such a comment to me, or to anyone. I don’t care if it’s “just who you are”. It’s crude, it’s distasteful, it’s demeaning, it’s harassment. You aren’t funny. I would have liked to exchange a few words with you post-race, but I didn’t see your face. I would have liked to tell you that on Saturday I suffered from a breathing attack and ended up in the back of an ambulance, but I still finished the race, in 4th might I add. I would have liked to tell you I’ve had 2 hip surgeries where I was told it’s possible my racing wouldn’t be the same. I would have liked to tell you that I’m defying the odds of racing at the top of the sport again after those 2 surgeries. But you know what, I don’t need to have an excuse for your poor behavior. There was a time where your comment would have made me cry. I’m a 33-year-old grown adult, and your childish comments lit my fire to beat your friend, to fight aggressively and dig deeper than I thought I could on this given day. While I disagree with your childish behavior that doesn’t belong in our sport, I thank you for those disgusting comments, it flicked my switch from wanting to just settle because that’s the easier option, to continue to fight to the very end.
To the man who thinks he is funny, to all the “hecklers” who think they are funny. There is no room for you in cyclocross. The reason I flocked to CX is because of the community and how they lifted everyone up at the races, the cheering, the way it felt like a family. The grassroots level of racing should make you feel good, it should feel like you’re spending your Sunday with all of your best friends. You should be lifting everyone up who is out there, you shouldn’t be mocking, catcalling, or other useless terms for your own enjoyment.
To the man who mocked my last name and my racing, bike racing is my profession. This is my job. I don’t go to your workplace and yell obscene mean things about how you do your job, don’t do that to me, don’t do that to any other professional, and don’t do that to any grassroots racer.
McFadden’s blog post also details the recovery process she has faced while recovering from a second hip surgery last February and a leg injury suffered while mountain biking in September.
You can read McFadden’s full post on her blog.
Have more thoughts on heckling in cyclocross in 2018? Drop a line in the comments.