Louisville National Championships

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I’m been in Louisville for one day and two nights now.  I like Louisville.  I won a couple Master’s World Cyclocross Championships here and even back when I was a junior, racing went well here.

I first came to Louisville when I was 18.  There was a Junior Olympic Development race here. The race went from Frankfurt Kentucky to Louisville, point to point.  Tell me you could hold that event now.  I very much doubt it without a huge budget.   The 2nd day of the race was at Cherokee Park, where they are holding the National Road Races.

I didn’t do Cherokee Park that weekend.  I was 3rd on Saturday, called my brother to tell him only to find out there was a criterium in Lincoln Nebraska that paid $200 to win.  I’d driven all night on Friday in a MG Midget to get to the race on Saturday morning, then jumped back into the MG and drove back to Kansas, slept a couple hours and then won the race up in Nebraska for the cash.  I could have probably lived off that $200 for a couple months back then.

The first time I raced in Cherokee back was when I was a 2nd year Senior, or Elite rider.  I’d driven to the race with Harvey Heim and we were staying at host housing near the Park.  I was in a break with a bunch of good guys.  I think Wayne Stetina was there, plus his younger brother Joel.  I didn’t really know the rest of the group.

Anyway, the race finished on the climb and I came from behind and thought I was going to win, but was passed by this guy that had sat on most of the race, who wasn’t on my radar. I was stoked to get 2nd.  I went back to the host house to clean up.  Some guy comes by to see the woman who owned it and asked me if I raced.  I said yes.  He asked what category.  I told him Pro 1/2.  I told him I got 2nd.  He proceeds to say he won.  It was Hugh Walton, gazillion time Canadian National Track Champion, who later on, was my team mate for many years.

Anyway, Louisville has been good to me racing.

Last night, Stacie had a party at her house for a bunch of juniors.  Like nearly 100 of them.  It was an idea to get the local juniors to mingle with national caliber juniors.  It was great.  I’m not sure who got invited, but there was the LUX Development Team, Hot tubes, a bunch of junior women, plus the Papa John’s local kids, etc.  It was super successful.

My first observation is that they can really eat.  Like enormous amounts of food.  I had told Stacie that a couple days earlier, so she planned accordingly, but just barely.  It was like locusts came, devoured, then left.

My 2nd observation is that they are really just kids.  They were playing tennis, shooting baskets, swimming, doing stuff that kids would do before the National Championships, but you’d be hard pressed to find Elite riders doing.  It was refreshing.

Did I say how much they ate?  It was incredible.  Anyway, Stacie did an incredible job putting this together.  I know these teams are on a super tight budget and feeding them has to be a hassle. So many guys consuming so much food.

I’d ridden 4 hours before the party, not as super slow as I’d hoped.  I didn’t feel that bad.  Not awful, as I had expected.  I probably was mediocre, which is okay.  I have two days to try to get a little better.  I’ve been taking antibiotics for my tooth and they seem to be working, I hope.  It feels much better, but it’s not perfect.  Usually when I take antibiotics, I’m shit.  Not so yet here.

The Elite Road Race is at…….7am.  Man, USAC is really putting a spotlight on that event.  I’ve done a ton of National Championships and the only guys racing at 7 am, historically has been juniors or really old master’s.  Guess they equate the Elite me to those guys here in Louisville.  I guess I didn’t need to do all that heat training for this event.

I got an email from USAC that said that they had changed the course and that they were letting in all riders that are on the waitlist of all events.  I’m not sure if this only applied to Elites, or there were other categories that closed.

This morning I’m riding over to Cherokee Park, then probably heading over to the new criterium course.  A lot of town riding, but I’m resting now.    Okay, seems like a weekend, but it is only Wednesday.  I get mixed up a lot nowadays with that.

Tucker was getting a lot of attention.

Tucker was getting a lot of attention.

Trudi and Roy catching up.

Trudi and Roy catching up.

Roy and I.

Roy and I.

This is Alex McCormick, Frank McCormick's son.  He has good genes so should go far in the sport.

This is Alex McCormick, Frank McCormick’s son. He has good genes so should go far in the sport.

A small road over by Westport, near the river.  Pretty incredible riding around here.

A small road over by Westport, near the river. Pretty incredible riding around here.





18 thoughts on “Louisville National Championships

  1. Jim

    I saw the email concerning the course change and allowing more entries.
    Once again, USAC sees the possibilities of making a BUTTLOAD more money with no more effort on their part. Allow 50 more riders per race and you make a cool +/- $5000 for doing nothing.
    Not a bad gig!

    1. Krakatoa East of Java

      People that trek across the country to ride at Nationals “tend” to really want to compete. I doubt the decision to open-up the entry is more of a kindness gesture than a “greed” one.

      It used to be much easier to sort out, as people had to qualify in advance. If you were a Cat2, and qualified at districts, you could ride in nationals with the big boys. Actually, as I remember, districts, AKA “State Championships” (depending on the state) were open to ALL senior men (regardless of category). Yep, Cat4s could – and sometimes DID qualify for (and ride at) nationals. If you were brand-new to racing AND you could hang, you actually had the same “fair” shot at a national championship as Tilly here. Members of the national team auto-qualified (as they were often not back at home when tending to team duties, and thus couldn’t qualify otherwise).

      Basically, there was no need for a field limit back then, because the potential registration list was already sorted out. You just had to show up the night before and verify that you were racing. Each racing district (depending on the number of licensed racer in each) had a different number of open slots for each category. And there were no “Cat 4 state championships”. The theory being that the reward for winning such a race should be an upgrade to Cat3, not a medal. There was one mens race and one womens. There were no masters events. Men, women, juniors. Simple.

      Memory lane regarding qualifying:
      I remember back in 1985, the SoCal district championships were held at Griffith Park in Hollywood. The course was 3 miles up (and 3 miles down) that road you always see used in movies (a staple of “CHiPs in the 70’s). The one that goes past the observatory and the Greek Theater. Anyhow, that year, Dave Brinton showed up. He was a top junior (and a teammate of Tilly’s) and I remember all of us thinking “What an asshole. He auto-qualifies anyway!”… meaning he was taking up one of the precious qualification slots for nationals. And he absolutely hammered us as we climbed up that hill lap after lap. He was truly in a league of his own. Then halfway through the race, he pulled over near the observatory and just rode home. He quit. Turns out, he was training for the pursuit worlds and had no intention of even going to nationals. He dropped out just to leave open that qualifying slot.

      1. RGT

        Remember Nats at Morgul Bismarck in the late 80’s, 200+ riders of all abilities, in the rain. That might have been the beginning of the end of the all categories qualifying through districts era.

      2. Krakatoa East of Java

        RGT: I was probably in college at that time (and not racing). I don’t know what went wrong (or when), but in theory, the field limit was supposed to be effectively set through the number of qualification slots offered to each district. You might get less showing up at natz, but you certainly wouldn’t get any MORE riders than you wished. If 200 people lined up, it must have been AFTER they stopped using a “prior qualification” method.

        As I remember at nationals, some riders were the sole participant from their state (or district) due to relatively small racing populations, so the field was “mostly” made up of district champions. States like CA, CO, NY, etc, had lots of additional slots as they had big racing populations. And as I remember, the field was damn big. But not “too big”. There is a way to predict exactly how big the field will be and balance that with only having deserving participants.

      3. dlshulman

        Morgul Bismark was 1987, and it was still in the period when you had to qualify from your district. The first lap crash was memorable: I could hear it up ahead and hit my brakes, but we were going so fast and there was so much water on the road, there was absolutely no way to stop. On the upside, I got to be at the finish to watch one of the greatest finishes to a bike race that I have ever seen. Randy Whicker and Kent Bostick side by side sprinting up that super tough finishing climb. Looked like they were going 15 mph tops. Whicker cracked in the last few meters, and Bostick took the title. Rarely have I seen riders dig so deep.

      4. Emacdo

        Nice that Rob dropped out. I rode the 1983 SouCal districts where Thurlow Rodgers showed up after finishing 4th at the Peace Race. We had him on the ropes until…well, the part where he started racing. He rode away on the last two laps (around Lake Matthews, unless I’m remembering wrong) like no one else was there. It was pure carnage. But also pretty cool for a barely-hanging-on-the-back Cat II to see what a real bike racer looks like when it’s time to go. He ended up winning by 4-5 minutes, but I’m guessing he sat up long before the end of the race.

      5. Krakatoa East of Java

        Too funny! Yes, ’83 was Lake Matthews. Thurlow had this tendency to win whatever local race he happened to enter. He apparently has still not tired of smearing the local mortals.

  2. Here we go again

    “…the only guys racing at 7 am, historically has been juniors or really old master’s” LOL! You’re knocking on that door, it’s only a few years away. On the positive side is we get the senior citizens early bird special at the all-you-can-eat-buffet. We’re in bed by 9:00pm so an early morning race isn’t a big deal.

  3. Bill K

    One advantage of being in the first race is that you can warm up on the course. (so it’s not all bad)

  4. channel_zero

    My first observation is that they can really eat. Like enormous amounts of food.

    Pretty much any active teenager.

  5. old and slow

    I got to drive the Morgul Bismark course in the opposite direction while the race was happening and watch the finish in 1987. It was my recollection that Bostick might as well have attached a bungee cord to Whicker’s seatpost from the bottom of the Hump if not even further out than that.

    Because that was the point where having a family started to push USCF things into the background it was maybe 15-20 years later that I learned that Whicker won nationals the following year.

    Along the same lines I never knew that Raul Alcala had beaten Indurain in a TDF time trial until decades later as well.

  6. Joe masser

    Can’t exactly say why, but this was pretty much the greatest post. Thanks for doing this’ Steve. And if you talk to Roy again this week’ maybe let him know what a great job he did as Jr. Nat. Team coach during mhis reign. I was an introverted kid so never told him what a great honor and privilege it was to hear him lean back in his chair and talk about bike racing. I know we are a small sport and tightly connected but still it was an amazing experience for a 16 year old kid to meet and leaen from a guy like that. And then there wete guys like your friend Bill Elliston who don’t get written aboyt who would come pick me up at my house and drive me to race in Central Park at the crack of dawn. I’m rambling but I hope these kids get even half as much from this sport as I did.

  7. Kent

    I love the dinner for juniors of all skill levels idea. Stacie won nationals in my opinion for such grandiose gesture. Bravo!


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