LONGMONT, Colorado -- For Cyclocross race fan Loni Sullivan-Chesaux, the series of events that make up the Chesaux Cup will never be just another a race.
For this spirited brunette who's become a fixture at the start and finish lines of each race included in the Shimano Cycle X Series, the Chesaux Cup is a living, breathing, rolling memorial to a man who lived and breathed the sport.
Founded in 2011, The Chesaux Cup is named for Sullivan's late fiancé Boulder-area cyclist and all around outdoorsman Matthieu Chesaux who died tragically in backcountry skiing accident in 2008. "Cyclocross is all about the suffering and Matt loved to suffer," Sullivan said. "He was into adventure races, mountain climbing and ice climbing - pretty much anything that after you are done and come home you just want to roll up into a ball."
After the initial shock of Chesaux's death passed, Sullivan was left wanting to do something to honor the memory of someone she describes as “a man in motion.” Sullivan’s first thought, she said, was organizing a ski race, but after
talking with Lance Panigutti with Without Limits Productions, (http://www.withoutlimits.co/#!series-points/c7cb) she began thinking more and and more about cycling and what it meant to Chesaux, a man who had at least a half dozen bikes at the time of his death. “Matt loved skiing, but I knew he loved his bicycles,” she said. “I dropped Lance a line and he told me about the Shimano Cycle X Series and they would love to have a cup to be awarded.”
From there, the Chesaux Cup was born. This is the fifth year of the Chesaux Cup,the last race in the series November 21st at the Louisville Rec Center. This years winner will be joining 2011 champion Brandon Dwight, 2012 champion Ken Benesh, 2013 champion Robin Eckmann and last year's champion Spencer Powlison.
Lance Panigutti explained the Cup this way, "The Chesaux Cup is the only memorial that can live up to the kind of life Matthieu Chesaux lived - an outgoing, adventurous life, always on the move, never content to simply sit and watch the world go by. Matt had to move with it. Even when he was sitting down, he had to keep his mind moving, book in hand. For this reason, a memorial for Matt cannot be a stationary one. A memorial for Matt cannot be rooted to the ground or a wall somewhere, staying in place for an eternity. Like Matt himself, his memorial has to move. And so, the Chesaux Cup is perfect. It combines one of Matt's favorite passions - cycling and cyclocross - with the movement and constant change that was so essential in Matt's life. And it is not something that can be kept forever. Matt was a strong believer that victory is not a one-time achievement, it must be continually earned. You can win the race once, but if you want to keep your victory, you'll have to win it again."
Like its namesake, the Chesaux Cup is in constant motion. Winners retain the award for a year, but must defend their title the following race season. “Matt would want it this way,” she said. “The fact that it is a living, moving memorial is why it fits him so well. Even when he was sitting, he was doing something.”
The Chesaux Cup consists of six races, each one typically held in the middle of the race day in the Single Men’s Open Cyclocross series held in different locations in and around Boulder County from September to November. (Race dates and locations: 9/19/15 at Valmont Bike Park, 9/26/15 at Xilinx, 10/25/15 at Flatiron's Mall parking lot, 11/7/15 at Interlocken, 11/14 at Siena Lake, 11/21/15 at Louisville Rec Center; all races start at 1:40pm) The last race of the six races is Saturday, November 21st at the Louisville Rec Center, with the SM Open start at 1:40pm. As she has been for each of the prior races in years past, Sullivan will be at the start and finish. “I have to be there,” she said. “This is so important and such a perfect memorial, I just want the racers to understand who Matt was, what he represented and how he lived.” The past years winner agree, and had these things to say about winning the cup.
The very first winner of the Chesaux Cup, Brandon Dwight had this to say "it was a huge honor to win the Chesaux Cup in memory of such a great person. We had the Cup at the bike shop all season and it was nice to talk about the meaning behind it with friends and customers. As I get older and slower I'll likely never win the Cup again, but I'm glad I helped carry on Matthieu's legacy.”
Ken Benesh said "Winning the Cup was truly an honor as it had much more meaning than "just" a bike race or a series. Having my name associated with the Cup representing a rider with such a passion for the outdoors and cycling is a real privilege. I didn't know Matt but I know I would have liked him! This is a great way to keep his legacy alive.”
Robin Eckmann said “When I won the cup I was very proud of it especially because it was in memory of Matthieu. I was also really excited because I have the feeling that this trophy is going to be around for a while. Meaning people especially the young kids now in the CX programs around the state looking up to the cup. It gives them a good goal line in the young racing career. Year by year it will come with more history. I am hoping that it will be like the legendary trophy from Europe that have been around for a few decades."
Last years winner Spencer Powlison said "I've placed second in the cup the last two years, so it's really great to win it this time around. Of course I'm an avid cyclist, but I also ski backcountry quite a bit in the winter, so it's really meaningful to to have this series be a tribute to Matthieu. I never had the chance to meet him, but if I did, I'm sure we would have hit it off.”
Matthieu Chesaux was only 40-years-old when he died doing what he loved. This is the 5th year of the Chesaux Cup, it seems amazing that we have already had 4 very successful years and that this year will surely not disappoint! Matthieu passed away on the last day of September in 2008, and with the races starting in September it brings love and light to such a hard time of year.
Thanks to the efforts of Sullivan, Without Limits Productions, Panigutti, the racers like Dwight, Benesh, Eckmann and Powlison along with others in the Boulder cycling scene, his memory will live forever honoring his life and the people participating in a sport he also loved.
For information on the Chesaux Cup, please contact Loni Sue Sullivan-Chesaux firstname.lastname@example.org