The 2018 Louisville Cyclocross Nationals are coming up fast. So fast that the first races start 15 days from now.
This year, the event returns to Joe Creason Park, home of the 2017 Pan-American Championships. The organizers chose the venue over Eva Bandman Park, which hosted the 2013 World Championships.
Last year’s event was hosted by Cadence Sports, but for Nationals, USA Cycling is stepping in to help run the week’s races. We reached out to National Events Manager Shawn Brett to ask him more about 2018 Nationals v2 and what folks heading to Louisville can expect.
If you have not registered yet, you can get more information, and if you are registered, check out Chris Mayhew’s excellent Louisville visitors’ guide.
Interview: Shawn Brett on 2018 Louisville Nationals
Cyclocross Magazine: We saw the venue at Joe Creason last year. What’s back and what’s new?
Shawn Brett: New to Cyclocross Nats 18.2? Our great partners at Louisville Parks and Recreation have widened the limestone stairs. Those are actually old curbing from the streets of Louisville that’s been repurposed for us.
They will be adding a sand pit as well as rebuilding the original flyover from Pan-Ams. I think the biggest change of all though is that we’ve moved the start grid to right in front of the offices of Louisville Parks and Recreation. Everything begins and ends right in the middle of the venue.
CXM: What will the climbing situation look like? Last year there were three big climbs per lap; will it be similar this year?
SB: One of the reasons we were in Louisville last year (besides the great food and bourbon) was to get feedback from the riders after Derby City Cup and the Pan-Ams. It is one thing to design a C2/C1/CC course but it is totally different when designing for a National Championship with Junior, Collegiate, Master and Elite athletes. We listened to the riders and I think you’ll find less climbing at Joe Creason this December.
CXM: What are some things your team learned after hosting Derby City last year?
SB: While the race was sanctioned by USA Cycling, we did not host Derby City in 2017. The Louisville Sports Commission, in partnership with Cadence Sports, hosted the event as they have since its inception. USA Cycling was there only to observe.
As usual with Louisville, it was an outstanding event and we felt that Joe Creason Park was full of potential.
The only drawback to the event we saw was how spread out everything was. Keeping many of the features from Derby City and rearranging others, plus an added or two, we believe we have maximized everything Joe Creason has to offer.
CXM: Eva Bandman has already hosted the biggest race of them all, why did your organization want to have the race at Joe Creason?
SB: Were you at the abbreviated UCI World Championships? I don’t want to consider the Ohio River as a course feature.
CXM: What kind of weather are you expecting, similar to Asheville maybe?
SB: I wasn’t in Ashville, so I can’t speak to the weather there, but Louisville could be a mixed bag of everything, wet/dry, warm/cold, rain/snow. Louisville is your typical Midwest city when it comes to weather on the cusp of winter, you just never know, but cyclocross riders are used to it all.
CXM: With the mud last year, we saw the Louisville Sports folks championing ’cross in Louisville. Will that organization still play a role in the event?
SB: Without Louisville Sports Commission, Visit Louisville and Louisville Parks and Recreation there would be no Cyclocross Nationals and no cyclocross in Louisville. There is a history there that no other city in the United States can stake claim to, it’s something they are very proud of and deservedly so.
USA Cycling and the Louisville Sports Commission, and also USA BMX, all have a long history of producing national and international events in this great city. We would not be there if this great group was not at the table with us.
CXM: What makes this year’s Nationals unique?
SB: We are back to December, it’s been a while and we feel that in the long-run December is a better time frame. We have some cool surprises up our sleeves for Cyclocross Nats 18.2! One we are excited about and willing to share is our Louisville partners have repurposed a few old traffic lights for the start grid, just like the World Cups, everybody gets to start on the green.
CXM: How can folks help volunteer with the event?
SB: Thanks for asking. Volunteers are still needed, in particular, there are numerous course marshal spots available from December 11-16. Signing up is online and easy at runsignup.com.
CXM: Are there going to be events during the week for folks sticking around before/after their races?
SB: Yes, there will be events during the week. The types of events are still evolving. Best way to get the most up-to-date information is to bookmark the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships microsite: gotolouisville.com/cyclocross/
CXM: Yours is the first December Nationals after a long hiatus. Any challenges with hosting the second Nats of 2018?
SB: As with any National Championship there are challenges and typically it comes trying to accommodate everyone’s schedule. We have a fantastic crew put together from all across the country and with the Louisville team on our side, we don’t see any challenges that can’t be handled.
CXM: It always helps to have Nats in city folks want to travel to. What else is worth checking out in Louisville while ’crossers are there?
SB: There are a lot of fun, family-friendly options for the ’crossers while in town.
Of course, Louisville has three iconic sports museums: the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Slugger Bat Museum and Factory and the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. The Louisville Mega Cavern, which is less than a half mile from the competition venue, is home to Lights Under Louisville – an underground holiday wonderland – as well as underground zip lines.
For the adults, why not visit one of the 44 Louisville bars and restaurants that are on the Urban Bourbon Trail. You might also want to visit one of the eight working bourbon distilleries along the Trail in or near downtown Louisville. For a full list of events in town, check out gotolouisville.com/events-calendar/
CXM: Awesome. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing you in Louisville.
Featured image: Deghan Perker