Windham, New York:
In the Heckle Pit at a World Cup Event
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup returns to the small town of Windham, New York. This will be the fourth time Windham has hosted the World Cup, but this year it will experience what pros call the “Lone Wolf Experience.”
I got the chance to bring the Lone Wolf experience to Windham after winning an online photo caption contest. A huge thanks to all the supporters and followers I have to help get me the win. The contest granted me VIP access to the World Cup event, and yes this went to my head. As a cyclist for over 20 years, the most I got from cycling was some table swag and a pint glass after an event.
People, Positive attitudes, and Passion for cycling: These things and more come to mind when thinking about the Lone Wolf Experience. But the pressure and anxiety I felt brought nerves to my stomach thinking about my mission—not as a racer, but as a Pit Leader.
The competitors from seven different countries will have passed many thousands of fans and tuned them out by the time they wind through Windham's Pit. Riders will be climbing at their max, racing upon some of the most dusty and technical terrain around, all while trying to tune me out.
Being in the Heckle Pit for a World Cup cross-country event is a task: You have to stay behind the course markings, you cannot interfere with the athletes' performance, and you have to show your appreciation to the athletes. To be a part of a pit can get emotional. Pits are our family reunions, our buddies we raced against at some level are there, our moms that dragged us to all the local bike races are there, and our friends. It is so amazing seeing all of us come together and gather in the woods on a small section of the course. There is laughter and stories being told as we wait for the racers to come flying by. The moments captured on film is when the pit comes alive and we bond together to show our support for the athletes, but the real moments to capture are after the athletes pass. As we wait for the riders we play catch up with our friends, our friends introduce us to new friends, food and beverages are being shared and sampled. Our pits are no different than your family reunions, it just done on a side of a mountain instead.
As I left Windham behind my contact list has grown, my photo library has expanded, and my voice is hoarse. I look forward to the next family reunion on a side of the mountain at some level of competition real soon. “See you in the Pit!”