The Nashville Dirt Championships at Ravenwood Park – a defunct golf course -were a blast. The course was hard and the weather was cold, but the enthusiastic fans and passionate racers made the event really special.
We were fortunate to have some mischievously creative people design the route. It was as if they went to the golf course, found the most challenging feature – a pair of steep rolling hills at the top of a steady incline – and said to each other, “How can we incorporate this into the race route?” In fact, I’m certain that’s exactly what happened. Naturally, this feature became the place to be for spectators. Heckling is an integral part of cyclocross and we had some practiced hecklers at the top of that hill. Nothing makes you want to complete a difficult technical section like 20 of your peers yelling insults at you. Heckler hill, combined with the switchbacks, sand trap, and slippery log on the back side of the route made for a well-rounded and entertaining cross course for rider and supporter.
We cannot offer enough thanks to those who helped make the event happen. First and foremost, thanks to Metro Parks Nashville for allowing us to use Ravenwood Park. Another huge thank you must go out to all of the volunteers that put in hard work to design, stake, and tape the course as well as those that helped run the event on race day. Thank you also to our friends over at Red Kite Bicycle Studio, Patrick and Shannon, and our buddy Dave Thinell at Rush for their help and support planning and running the event.
Greg O’Loughlin deserves special recognition. He put in an incredible amount of effort helping to connect the dots and getting the logistics ironed out. On race day, he balanced riding in two races, fielding questions from spectators, communicating with Metro Parks officials, and ensuring that riders made it to the start line for their respective races. There were several times I saw him riding around the parking lot, calling out the time until the next race started. We cannot thank him enough.
This weekend showed how special the cycling community is here in Nashville. Cyclocross is an accessible and exciting discipline of the sport. With a little help from our local bicycle shops and riders and support from local government, it’s reasonable to think we could bring a UCI event to beautiful Ravenwood Park.