#cxnats cancelled due to perfect conditions wtf Austin?

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That was a tweet yesterday from a photographer from The Austin Chronicle, Sandy Carlson, after they cancelled/then postponed, the final day of The US Cyclocross National Cyclocross Championships.

It was pretty amazing and unprecedented.  When I first heard yesterday morning, sitting in a hotel in Austin, I thought it was a joke.  After thinking about it for a couple minutes, I realized it was probably true.  It is Austin and cities like this dance to their own music.

I’m not really sure exactly what the real issue is.  I guess the “heritage trees” and putting them at danger.  I wasn’t even sure what a heritage tree was, so I looked it up.

A Heritage Tree means a tree that has a diameter of 24 inches or more, measured four and one-half feet above natural grrade, and is one of the following species: 

Then they list 10 different varieties of trees.  They are so important that they have a whole private foundation for it in Austin, of course.   Over the last few years, training in Austin, I’ve noticed the extent construction people go to protect trees, even though the trees are really a long way from the construction.  They fence them off and protect their trunks.  I never understood it.  It is not common anywhere else I’ve been.

First, I’ll state that I don’t think that riding around those trees, exposing their roots or not, will kill any tree in the park.  I’ll admit, that cyclocross does “mess up” a park, especially after a big rain, but that is a short term problem if handled properly after the event.   And a problem that everyone involved in the event, especially the promoters and City of Austins Parks and Rec, must have been very familiar with.

I believe the problem was that a few active residents, from the surrounding area, saw the “damage” the Saturday’s races did to the ground, and started making phone calls.  And obviously, they must have wielded enough power to stop the race, or at least postpone it for a day.  It was a disaster.

We didn’t have a room for another night and Vincent had some stuff he needed to do, so we drove back to Topeka yesterday.  I didn’t argue with him much.  I was tired of just sitting around Austin, in the cold and rain, waiting to watch a race I’d like to be competing in.

Virtually everyone I know that was in Austin from out of town, that was there only to watch the race, left.  Plus, anyone I know that lives in Austin, that works, had no intention of taking the day off to watch the Nationals today.  This isn’t even addressing the extra costs to all the competitors.  Changing flights and extra nights in the hotels, it is amazingly expensive.  That is too bad.  For everyone involved, promoters, fans and riders.

The races are going to happen.  The course was perfect yesterday.  It would have been an epic cyclocross with deserving winners.  I’m not sure what it is going to be like today.   Moving the course away from the trees and dumping a bunch of woodchips on the course is going to change the way the course flows a ton.  It is definitely going to affect the results.  But, someone is going to win each race still, regardless.

I really liked the woman from the Austin’s Park and Rec, Sara Hensley.  I watched the press conference on the internet and she seemed pretty well spoken and genuine.   She said it was a no-win situation and they were trying to make the best of it.

“Some of them are asking for my resignation. This is what happens when you live in a city where everyone wants to give their 2 cents.”   I think that pretty well sums it up.

This is a photo from the Collegiate races on Saturday.  The course was getting very technical.

This is a photo from the Collegiate races on Saturday. The course was getting very technical.

This is a photo I took at the race, about 10 feet from the course.  Seems like there are a lot of "exposed" roots here naturally.

This is a photo I took at the race, about 10 feet from the course. Seems like there are a lot of “exposed” roots here naturally.


They do this to all the trees when they are doing any sort of construction, not even near the tree.  The City of Austin must have a crazy tree protection ordinance.  I'm all for protecting trees, but for some reason, it seems like a little overkill.  That is sometimes the case in towns like Austin, Boulder etc.  Legislate common sense.

They do this to all the trees when they are doing any sort of construction, not even near the tree. The City of Austin must have a crazy tree protection ordinance. I’m all for protecting trees, but for some reason, it seems like a little overkill. That is sometimes the case in towns like Austin, Boulder etc. Legislate common sense.


30 thoughts on “#cxnats cancelled due to perfect conditions wtf Austin?

  1. Bolas Azules

    Looks like it’s time that the cycling community and USA Cycling bid adieu to Austin. Schedule a press conference and let the city of Austin know that the millions of $ that have been pumped into the local economy since the early 1980’s is now leaving and it will not come back. Evidently the sport has no pull and the city leaders don’t care…pack-up the training camps, pack-up the races, the national championships, the ‘future bids,’ and pack-up every sanctioned event, pack-up any support of any bicycle commuting organizations and move it on down the road. It’s time to flex a little economic muscle and put communities on notice. Let’s see the annual membership fees put to good use, let’s see a little back-bone, lets see it USA Cycling, let’s see it.

  2. Jim Ochowicz

    You should counsel Katie Compton to stop singing the blues via social media. It’s unbecoming of a champ

  3. Evan

    Research shows compaction of roots under canopies of older trees in soggy conditions can prevent new root growth and stunt and kill trees. The park should never have allowed the course to be under the canopies in the first place. Or another park should have been chosen. Neither the trees nor the racers should be sacrificed. Both are valuable resources. But let’s not come out of this making an enemy of Austin and environmentalists.

  4. TLG

    Long time listener, first time caller.

    Sara Hensley “genuine”? Please. She stated these were exceptional rains and 2 inches. Data clearly shows it was .5″ over 5 days and .1″ on Saturday. She essentially lied to cover up the fact the decision was based purely on political pressure.

  5. MikeMac

    The blame here lies with USAC, not the residents of Austin. 1000 race directors across the country would have seen this coming a mile away considering the venue and the players at the table. This was forseeable and preventable. Just like the frozen pressure washer debacle from last year.

    And “conduct unbecoming of the champ?” Please. Taking a shot at Katie here is EXACTLY that. Now conduct unbecoming of a governing body? I could make a lonnnnng case for that.

  6. devin b

    A city and county that pays millions a year to move and protect trees like Austin’s taco bell tree, does not need the economic benefits of a national cx race.

  7. Sal Ruibal

    I’ve see a lot of cyclocross races and participated in several of them, both in the US and Europe, including a World Championship. Every race I’ve seen, wet or dry, has damaged the course in some way. That includes Koksidje. But the delicate sand dune course in Koksidje was protected because of a very intelligent plan that featured lots of deep sand sections and bridges over sensitive areas. Granted, it was cold, dry day but 50,000 spectators were able to both see the races without much damage. One man’s thrilling mud section is another’s nightmare. I don’t know all the answers, but maybe studded tires should be banned if a course rides over exposed roots. Or build little bridges over them, as the Belgians did at the WC. The ultimate irony is that a healthy sport for humans can be deadly for the environment. Surely the great minds out there can devise some common-sense solution.

  8. VCScribe

    In addition to Evan’s reasoned statement above, I’d like to add mention of the phenomenon of oak wilt. Most of these ‘heritage trees’ in central Texas are various species of oaks, especially live oaks. Red oaks and live oaks are particularly susceptible to the disease, which is fungal in nature and is often spread through fungus spores entering tree wounds.

    Bottom line: Parks dept. should have seen this coming and influenced course design accordingly. Big eff-up, exacerbated by ham-fisted communications.

  9. channel_zero

    What millions of dollars has cycling provided Austin? What USAC event did that? Soccer for kids has a bigger impact on the residents than a bunch of insular lycra-clad cyclists. Soccer even have their own taxpayer-funded playing surfaces! Cycling? Not even close.

    Competitive cycling is, at best, a niche sport. Thank your federation for their decades of indifference and corruption.

  10. Steve Tilford Post author

    TLG-I did note the discrepancy in rain amounts. I think the total from the 24 hours before were officially between .71 and .83 inches. Add the rain from the previous days, she isn’t really that far off, so I’m giving her a break not stating the exact numbers. Calling her a liar wouldn’t be fair, in my opinion.

  11. Neil

    Exactly. USAC had the hubris to think they could win her over. When you were negotiating venues and you heard “Doesn’t mean that much to me, to mean that much to you”, you should have sought alternatives.

  12. channel_zero

    Hahaha! Monday races “cancelled” for another 24 hours? Apparently, they are kicking everyone out of the park, and declaring it “closed” again.

    Awesome. Good job USAC. Oh, wait, yeah, they got paid. High-fives all around.

  13. Bee

    Agreed. Its not Austin’s park and rec department to care about cycling.
    Agreed, the drip lines should have been protected in the first place. This could have been after the rains started and the erosion began to become evident.
    Where was the collaboration between APR and USAC? Both groups came across as being completely unprepared with a sorry contingency plan with absent or ineffective collaboration in their event planning and management.

    The social media shit storm was silly. The only thing better was the post Crumb published yesterday.

    2x tree protection for construction is standard procedure in most/all communities in or around Chicago. What is missing is the snow fence at the drip line. An added measure which was lost on Austin and USAC.

  14. JB

    Wet/muddy/saturated (or bone-dry) soils will not compact. Soils need to be in the damp to moist range to compact. /soils engineer

    Obviously, soil disturbance from the bikes and soil saturation can damage the grass’ root systems. Damage to roots from the bikes themselves, I cannot comment on.

  15. euro

    You sound just like a typical liberal, tree hugging, save the earth even though it doesn’t need saving wacko. I’m sure trees that are 100 years old can survive a little grass being scraped up under them just fine. The roots are many feet in the ground, and in a month no one would ever know that a race was even held there.

  16. Bolas Azules

    channel_zero – what millions are pumped into the economy? Work for a local government and compete for events to get tourists and hotel & restaurants filled and you’ll see how this works. This is exactly why every town in America with more than 50,000 people borrowed money to build convention centers over the last 30 years. For Austin I remember in the early 1980’s the spring USCF training camp in town had 60-70 riders moving in for 2-3 months. If each of them spent a few hundred $ a week (conservative for sure) – housing, food, in stores….the $ adds up pretty quickly.

    Screw them and don’t ever go back.

  17. BikeFred

    Millions in economic impact to Austin. Look at the report commissioned below by Bend. Not only the bottom line is significant, but it is a time of year with some of the highest vacancy rates ie lowest tourism numbers so a perfect time to bring people and their wallets into town.


    IMHO – What has happened is the City or whoever was responsible for bringing the event to the City, has taken the money and 3/4 of the way through providing the service, decided well we are going to make you all pay more and not deliver what we signed up for.

    David is a troll.

  18. Prestachuck

    “Hahaha! Monday races “cancelled” for another 24 hours? Apparently, they are kicking everyone out of the park, and declaring it “closed” again”

    Not true. I’m watching the races live right now.

  19. Evan

    Not a liberal. Just not a jerk There is a opportunity to progress our sport or harm it. People like you harm it

  20. Freddy

    Yeah, right. Like cycling is such a huge cash cow to a community. Austin Texas will be just fine without all the rich and spend-happy cyclists spending their millions in the city. If you note a hint of sarcasm, then you are right.

    The reality is that this cx nationals would bring some money into Austin, but it would certainly not be any type of windfall. Not even remotely and I don’t care what kind of inflated figures the promoter or USA Cycling throws out there. None of it is based in reality. Cyclocross is a niche discipline within a niche sport within outdoor sports. The sooner people accept reality, the sooner they can help themselves to a better bike racing experience.

  21. steve

    i hate what happened for anyone involved with the races. as far as austin, i have lived just up the road from Ausin my whole life in Dallas, Can’t stand anything about Austin and the city deserves all the bad press that can be thrown at it.


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