Of all cycling disciplines, cyclocross seems to be the most spectator friendly. The open courses that racers circle numerous times promotes an up close and personal relationship between spectators and fans. This relationship includes the constant ringing of cow bells, beer tents, horns, hand-ups, megaphones, and yes, heckling. When I first started racing cross, the heckling came as a surprise. Unlike a 5K or marathon, where spectators scream words of encouragement (“great job”, “almost there”) CX spectators scream insults, “go faster,’ “you’re not winning,” and “are you racing or participating?!”
I recall leading a race about 5 years ago and was suffering as I tried to maintain my lead. On the final lap, when I passed legendary heckler, Laura Melendez, she shouted through the megaphone, for all the hear, “THE UGLIEST FACE WINS THE RACE!!”. Spend enough time around cyclocross racers and you will learn they are a different breed. Things that are instinctively unpleasant, are somehow what makes cross racers tick – cold, mud, burning lungs, and yes, insults. As a result, heckling is actually a way to show you care about a cross racer. Which is exactly why the proper etiquette for CX fans is to cheer for strangers and heckle your friends.
So, with the understanding that heckling and insults are intended to represent words of encouragement, or maybe even endearment, here are nine cyclocross racers that everyone should be heckling this season.
Collin is consistently the fastest single speed CX racer in Michigan. However, it is not his results that set him apart or make him heckle worthy. It is his style in all aspects of the race. Collin races hand painted cow print bikes and get’s the biggest air on the Michigan scene at every opportunity (even if it is going to cost him time to his opponents). He also gives back to the bicycle community, hosting the Michigan Bicycle Classifieds Facebook page.
JB is an elite CX racer, but his work behind the scenes does more than anyone to ensure we have a vibrant CX scene across the entire State of Michigan. He is the race director/promoter of the Alma Grand Prix of Cyclocross, which traditionally serves as the first cyclocross race of the season. JB promotes the race year round and has become a model for many race promoters across the State.
Anne is a cancer survivor, beat cancer and now beats women half her age!! She puts in the time and volunteers to work on trails has superb bike handling skills, and is known to ride her CX bike on local mountain bike trails. Anne is a USAC Level II coach and the owner of Power by Design Coaching.
Jess is always smiling and understands that cyclocross is all about having fun. She is known for riding over 40 miles from her home to cyclocross races and then, jumping into the elite field race (sometimes with her bike speaker blaring tunes throughout the race). Jess is also one of Michigan’s premier bike fitters at FITMI, in Ann Arbor.
Don Lee is not a passive racer! When Don’s in the field, there is no question who is going to win the hole shot and he will go as hard as he can, as long as he can. Don’s contributions to the sport go well beyond racing. He is the co-promoter of the Beer City Growler (the 2nd race in the MICX Series), organizes a weekly cyclocross practice in Grand Rapids, known as “Questionable Traction,” and will be running Grand Rapid’s unsanctioned cyclocross race series, Kisscross, this fall.
Photo Credit: Rob Meendering
If you know me, chances are you know Wade. He is my main dude, my bestie, and my Bike Law teammate. He rips it up in the ultra-competitive Masters 35 and over field and finished 2nd at the 2016 Michigan State Championship in the single speed category. Wade is widely considered the “nice guy” on the Michigan cyclocross scene. Almost too nice, on more than one occasion, he has let competitors go around him in the finishing stretch because he felt he didn’t do enough work or was drafting too much during the race!
Mackenzie Woodring & Kelly Paterson
Both are among the fastest racers on the Michigan Cyclocross Scene. Both are tremendously positive people and fun to be around. Unfortunately, both have also been MIA for the better part of the last two years. Mackenzie is a former professional road racer and recently retired as one of the tandem pilots on the USA Paralympic Team. Kelly is a science teacher with multiple Michigan CX State Championships. It may be wishful thinking, but we would love to see Mackenzie and Kelly at a few races this year!
At 6′ 6″, the Czar of Michigan Cyclocross is easy to spot at any given race. Even when not racing, Jeff is likely to be in attendance at most races, heckling and providing racers with a wide variety of hand ups, including beer, bacon, and jello-shots. Jeff is also the co-founder of the Velvet Elvis Cyclocross Team and a part-owner of Motorless City Bicycle Company, an awesome bicycle shop located in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
Photo Credit: Bob Bruce
Bike Law Michigan Cyclocross Series
You’ll see most these faces and many more at the upcoming Bike Law Michigan Cyclocross series that we will be previewing next week!