Some cycling fan passionate about the artistry of Elvis Presley likely used their muse as the theme for Sunday’s race. What they most likely didn’t consider is that Elvis is the ideal icon to use as the theme for a cross race. Cyclocross is, for all intent and purposes, an embodiment of Elvis’ career and life.
As we pulled up to the parking lot in Beverly, the energy rivaled levels that could have only been heretofore found at Sun Studios in Memphis, in 1954 – where Elvis cut his first record. There was pure innocence and energy in the air. The anticipation of greatness that the ‘cross racers felt as they pull bikes down from their cars seemed remarkably similar to the sweet melody of those early Elvis songs; edgy, yet innocent.
As the racers looked up from their preparation, they saw the earlier races in progress. There was nothing pedestrian or callow about these races. It became clear to them that Cyclocross as a discipline is like the voice of a southern boy that couldn’t stop his pelvis moving when he would sing. Cyclocross is as unconventional and gritty as the blending of gospel, blues and early rock and roll. Cyclocross is clearly identical to the performer that seemed so foreign to his early audiences because he was the handsome white singer with the black-sounding voice.
The Masters race showed a pace more intense than that observed just a simple week ago. The innocence was gone and the speed and tension of the race was now more like Elvis in the black leather jumpsuit performing on stage in 1968.
As the day passed, the earlier racers, Nancy and Ron, arrived at the tent, exhausted and ready for a rest. All the racers would end up feeling this way by day’s end. Like Elvis late in his carrier, they would all end up seeking their own personal Graceland where the pain would subside. With several more races to go, there was intensity in store. It proved to be a great day of riding for Nancy who notched a 7 spot in the Cat 3 Women’s race.
The Cat 1,2,3 saw Delfino push hard to get his best performance of the season. Look out Montrose. He’ll be ready as ever this year, and he loves Mariachi versions of old Elvis songs.
The junior race saw Tommy take all the chances and in a single log, move from ToMo to EnDo. He recovered and fought hard. What a team. Thomas held up for his teammate in the final sprint. Despite EnDo losing as much as 10 minutes after the fall, he fought back to hold on to the yellow jersey – thanks only to Thomas’ team strategy.
The 4As saw Andre, Will Frame, and Tristan go off strong. We had the new addition of Will from Wilmette (we’re collecting Will’s on the team). After some intensity in the first lap, Tristan did the sound thing and pulled himself due to an injury in training yesterday. Andre raced hard and finished 11. Will Frame pushed it hard and left it all out there. Thankfully he took Paula’s counsel and didn’t race the 4Bs
Then comes the Carnival. These 4B races are akin to the Vegas years for Elvis. While there weren’t any jumpsuits (just skinsuits), the carnage of the hill and the log made this race something to be remembered.
Even Elvis loved a hand-up. Who can forget the flowers and undergarments he received when he was late in his career performing in that white, bedazzled jumpsuit. On a bike, the older Elvis would have had a great appreciation for the dollar bill and turkey bacon hand-ups.
The race wouldn’t have been complete without Flannel Mike, el Tiboron de Hierra, Mario (from Donkey Kong) and that guy in girls shorts that was racing in front of Andre until the end. Thomas raced for a second time and finished well within the top half. Pepe was happy to say that he beat adults – even Flannel Mike. Andre fought hard for second place finish and likely remains in control of his first place ranking in the 4B standings. He is our king, the “King” of South Africa, not necessarily the King of Rock and Roll.
Unlike most stories involving Elvis, nobody came close to dying today. Better yet, the Gearheads trained, took chances and had fun.
We hope you enjoyed the Southern fare in the tent: Kentucky Bourbon BBQ ribs, grilled corn succotash, three-cheese mac-n-cheese and stewed Memphis beans.
Thanks to Andre, Will Frame, Tristan, ToMo (EnDo), Thomas, Pepe, Delfino, Ron T, Nancy H and New Will.
As we packed up the site, we turned out attention to home. We took a deep breath and knew, “Elvis has left the building.” Race support will see you all in Barlett at Sunrise Park on Oct 23.