The pictures, the video and positive comments are flying around 303cycling.com. Comments like this one from Micheal Beck (promoter of the upcoming RLW in Memoriam Cx Race): "Mile High Urban CX Chaos will rank up to one of the better races of the season. The course, the scene, and the location provided an awesome day out racing bikes." You might be thinking: 250 participants? That's not very many. Don't be fooled. The numbers are not indicative of the impact this race had on our community. After being supremely impressed with this event, myself, I asked organizer and promoter, Deirdre Moynihan for an informal interview to get the back-story.
[303 Cycling]: Deirdre, tell me what this event is all about?
Deirdre: Mile High Urban CX Chaos - fondly known as MUCCY is about providing access to Cyclo-cross for those that want to learn about it; are just starting in the sport and most importantly, those with physical challenges that are essentially eliminated from the sport in all other venues. The spirit of MUCCY is that it is fun for everyone.
[303 Cycling]: I had a ton of fun. But I fell. A lot. I didn't expect this level of technical skill but was pleasantly surprised. How did you come up with such a course?
Deirdre: Fun does not mean easy. I think not being a racer actually gives me a different perspective because I look at venues with a very different eye. For the last 2 years I have very urban locations that I thought would work great for a cyclocross race - at first glance, the racers I work with look at me like I am crazy but eventually come around and viola -we build a very challenging technical course. I give them the general layout and then the Natural Way Team takes it and hones in on the technical areas.
[303 Cycling]: Who were the major players of this event?
Deirdre: This is very Grassroots - it is done with no cash sponsorship. Primal provides jerseys, graphics, their vans and all sorts of other support that is just amazing; TAXI/ Zeppelin Development provided the location; Natural Way Team and Brinkman Construction build the course; we use as much as possible from the Race Kit from BRAC (and that really helps save money) The Street Kings Bicycle Congregation and Huron Consulting provide great groups of volunteers; Lagunitas donates the beer. It was my brainchild that happened because of the great help of so many people
[303 Cycling]: Let's talk about the adaptive category. I was blown away by this. It was supremely humbling and inspiring.
Deirdre: Here is why I started the adaptive course:
In the summer of 2012 I took a ride up and down Winter Park Resort on the Zephyr. It was a beautiful day and as a healthy, able bodied individual I had nothing restricting me from hiking up and down the mountain (other than my own laziness and an 8 year old in tow). I watched in awe as a former soldier who had been injured serving our country very adeptly got off the chair lift and into an adaptive mountain bike. I was in awe watching him do just that but then I on my ride down on the chair lift I saw him actually riding down the mountain and my jaw dropped. He was unbelievable: fierce, free, and fast. He hit the trail and didn’t look back. It is an image that will never leave my mind.
Later that summer while in multiple discussions about the logistics of different bike events I was again awestruck by comments from able bodied individuals about porta-potties for individuals that are physically challenged. My jaw dropped when I heard “people in wheelchairs don’t come to these events” or “it will be filmed so they can watch it on tv.” I was not awestruck I was horrified.
I do believe we have an obligation to provide an accessible world to everyone and I do believe that we have a strong obligation to provide an accessible world to soldiers that were injured serving our country. No one should just have to watch a Cyclo-cross race or any race on TV. They should not only be able to watch it as a spectator but they should be able to participate as well.
I wanted to incorporate an adaptive course into the Mile High Urban CX Chaos so I started looking for races across the country that have done similar courses and I shouldn’t have been surprised but I found none. That was it – I took this to the MUCCY crew and we knew we had to do the first ever adaptive Cyclo-cross course in the country. It was an amazing 30 minutes on November 11, 2012. A man left as a quadriplegic during the Vietnam War raced with such determination and joy with his hands literally taped to the controls.
[303 Cycling]: What kind of preparation do you and your crew do for the adaptive side of things?
Deirdre: Jake O'Connor from Reactive Adaptations comes on Saturday and rides the course to evaluate it for the adaptive racers. The goal is not change the course for the adaptive riders but a) know where we may need extra people near obstacles and b) be prepared to readjust the course if we need to. In the first year, we took out a steep run-up because it was icy and with their bikes that are back heavy they could have easily flipped and this year, we only added a plank going up a set up stairs.
What we did have was people standing near obstacles to give pushes if asked. One of the greatest moments this year was when a group of juniors helped push an adaptive cyclist through the sand and then continued running with them. There were many tears flowing at that point because it was such a great sight to see. Unfortunately, 2 of the adaptive racers had mechanicals - Paul Ottenstein actually broke his bike in half - it was a road bike and just too fragile for the course.
[303 Cycling]: Were you happy with the numbers for your second year?
Deirdre: Turnout was over 100 more than last year so we're very pleased. There was very low turnout for the Women's A but Margell Abel, Kristel Boni & Emily Rachubinski had a great time and that is what counts. The Men's A group also had some fantastic racers and had a challenging race. People keep saying that they are sorry that the "top category" did not fill out and they shouldn't be. This race, while is does provide a very technical challenging course, does not cater to the elite but to those that are joining the sport. I want people to participate in MUCCY for the fun of it - not points, not prizes but because it is a blast for everyone.
There are great races every weekend on the Front Range that provide opportunities for category upgrades, UCI upgrade points, Colorado CX Cup points, etc., etc., but there is no other race that provides such easy, non-intimidating access to the sport. We are very lucky in Colorado to have so many options that meet the needs of so many different groups of cyclists - that is a good thing! I welcome everyone but if I was going to focus my energies on marketing to increase participation it would be to the neighborhood so more of those kids would come out and give it a try! Wouldn't it be great if the next Ryan Trebon/Tim Johnson/Katie Compton etc. came out of Globeville, Five Points or the RiNo neighborhood in Denver? That would be awesome!
[303 Cycling]: So it sounds like you are already planning to do the 3rd annual MUCCY race next year?
Deirdre: Next year? You know it!
Want to see the course up close and personal? Watch it here!
A huge thanks to Diedre and everyone involved including Taxi for hosting the race!! And a special shout-out to Primal as they continue giving back to the cycling community! Primal, DMM Events and Taxi not only worked together to put on The Urban CX race but also for The SHIFT Party back in October. SHIFT was an art auction celebrating the joys of bike culture. Beer was donated by Left Hand Brewery and there was a food bike from Kassia's Pasta Farm. Primal Artists and friends combined their talents to present a showcase of 48 cycling themed works of art. One of a kind designs, paintings, and sculptures were auctioned off that night at a rocking party to raise $4,000 benefiting Bike Denver and Colorado Farm Bureau Flood Relief.
*Top selling art: "Little Red" by Tim Baker, Marketing Director,Tim Baker, Primal Wear for $340. Way to go, Tim!!
Click here for more pictures from The SHIFT Party.