Keeping it small: The joys of local, grassroots racing

The unique fly under/over during Rolland CX in Laramie (Photo: Rolland Cycling)

I’ve done my fair share of races to shake out which ones are worth the money/time/drive, which ones aren’t, which ones are well ran, which ones need a lot of guidance, etc.  And out of everything I’ve done, from nationals to races in middle of nowhere Wyoming, from USAC sanctioned to ones that definitely will never seek out sanctioning, from the ones with slick promotion and insanely expensive entry fees to the ones with a simple Word file flyer and $10 fee, I always come back to saying that the Laramie Mountain Bike Series (LMBS) and Gowdy Grinder are the two best run, best timed, best “put together by people with their poop in a group” races I have ever done – ones with very cheap entry fees, free food for ALL racers afterwards, cool prizes, great course markings, and promoted by a couple of locals who actually manage to upload live results on Wifi in the middle of the woods.  To say in the least, I am spoiled by the local, grassroots level of racing in southeastern Wyoming.

I started out by racing at the LMBS, so really they’re to blame for all this craziness!  Of course I naturally found out how awesome racing was at LMBS and wanted to see how much better all these fancy races with $80 entry fees or USAC sanctioning must be.  2013 was definitely the year I sorted out what events I would go to, which ones I would avoid, which ones I would still go to out of force of national qualifying, and which ones I would limit how many I would do due to fees and return.  I continued this into 2014, and have really come to realize sometimes there’s no place like home!

Rolland Cyclocross in Laramie this past weekend didn’t have a large turnout.  But that didn’t really bother me as I pinned on a race number for my first race back since getting sick.  I was excited for the course, which was better (in my opinion) than some courses I pay the big bucks to race on in Colorado for a mere 40 minutes.  Also, who can turn down racing in their hometown, complete with their dad heckling them on?  Made me feel like a member of Boulder Junior Cycling, having my parents there telling me to ride faster 😀  I had the chance to spend about $70-80 on entry fees for Colorado USAC cross races this weekend, along with the $50+ in gas.  It did kinda make me sad for a second to be missing Primalpalooza when I made the decision not to go, and just take a Saturday trip over to Laramie and pay my $10 under a small tent in windswept Laprele Park.  I pretty much forgot about that once I hit the thin air of Laramie, and rode the off camber switchback up and under a bridge over Spring Creek that lead to a punchy climb out and a run over the bridge to the grass on the other side.  This was fun, an awesome course feature, and it was in my neck of the woods, not a 130 miles south in Colorado.

I’ve been quick to dismiss some local racing, especially cyclocross, in the past.  Sometimes, it isn’t all great (nothing can be perfect all the time), but I think the overwhelming majority of grassroots local racing is something worth hitting up and doing!  I’m happy I gave Rolland CX a chance, and without a doubt I’d do more of their events!

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