Cross Vegas. An outdoor soccer complex, exact location unknown, is the final destination of our chartered shuttle bus from the Strip. Little of what defines the sport of cyclocross in my mind is present – no mud, inclement weather, or daylight. Temperatures are moderate if not warm, the course a mix of grass and pavement.
Still, some authentic ‘cross vibes are here: a perhaps higher than average number of attendees are piss-drunk, and the overall feeling is one of “not taking things too seriously.”
Having been denied photo credentials by the helpful race organizers, my coworker left me at the venue entrance to retrieve and smuggle out a photo vest. This would turn out to be unnecessary as the majority of the course was easily accessible to anyone. A quick course evaluation confirmed my suspicions of the pending photo nightmare.
Cross Vegas is quite simply a camera torture test. The course varies between poorly lit and not lit at all. The racing is fast, chaotic, and difficult to see through a viewfinder. Conditions demanded photographic sins be immediately committed:
1. ISO’s pushed to “crunchy” (particularly regrettable on my well-aged D300)
2. On-camera flash units engaged (this is a personal sin, the bike press core at large seems content with this practice)
3. My coverage obligations demanded that I participate in the photographer pit that occurs near race start/finish lines and around better known riders.
The reappearance of the vuvuzela was regrettable – popular opinion is that this cheap plastic horn largely ruined the last World Cup.
Hand-ups are a staple of any good ‘cross race and Vegas brought its share to the table. Items offered include Coke, beer, CX gloves, and the ever popular cash money. Marshaling on the majority of the course was…lax. Spectators frequently ducked ropes to move across the labyrinthian course, myself included.
Since my race attendance was by no means journalistic, I was free to focus the cameras where I pleased. Most of what I know about the final results came from official race reports the following day. I can say with some certainty that races were raced, a few riders won, most did not. I was able to opt out of the awful photo-op that is your typical Podium Presentation. Enjoy.