I guess there are 3 sand pits on the course, with one having a u-turn incorporated in it. I don’t get the whole premise of including sand in a cross race. Is it because they have sand in Belgium, so we think it is cool to be like Belgians? That has to be the case. This sand riding has only become common the last decade or so. I don’t remember ever racing in a cross race that had sand before 2000.
If the Belgium connection is the reason, let me tell you, our sand is nothing at all like the sand in Belgium. Our sand is much more granular, courser, thus doesn’t compact like the fine, silt-like sand in Belgium. Our sand never will retain lines unless it is wet. Our sand is completely not rideable in many situations. Theirs is usually rideable, at least by the best riders.
Let me tell you how fine the sand is in Belgium. I have the pair of socks I raced in Mol, Belgium, two years ago. Every single time I put on those socks, I feel sand in them. I’ve washed those socks dozens of times and there is still a itty-bitty, tiny amount of very fine sand on the material. It’s nuts.
Anyway, I don’t want to bag on it too much, but I think it is stupid to go out of our way to add these sand obstacles in our cross courses, just because they do it in Belgium. It screws up the drive train of the bikes and seems unnecessary. Many of our cross races end up being extremely muddy. Then we go add an artificial sandpit into it. That is a recipe for disaster. In Belgium, normally where the sand is, the courses drain extremely well, because the sand is the natural composition of the soil, thus it isn’t super muddy, with sand.
I think that if the forecast for Louisville holds true, this will be the case there. Mud, plus 3 sand pits. For me, it shouldn’t be the factor to decide the outcome of a race, which it just might be this next week. Anyway, I’m driving towards the sand and mud in Louisville at this very moment. I have a physical therapy thing for my shoulder set up and then an awesome dinner after. Can’t get much better than that.
Check out the different in the composition of the sand in these two photos. The first is Klaas Vantornout at the 2013 Belgian cyclocross championships in Mol. The 2nd is Ryan Trebon and company in Boulder. See how the sand in the first photo holds the lines, while there are virtually no lines in the Boulder sand.