There were a lot of folks around the course, but the food tent near the start/finish line had a consistent crowd.
The early heat was fun to watch, but a battle royale shaped up as soon as the "A" group left the line.
Home town favorite Noah Singer and Jonesboro's Nathan Rice were off the front and the race was on! Noah bunny-hopped most of the barriers, while Nathan ran them, giving Noah a very slight edge there.
I think the general consensus among the crowd was that this was some of the best head-to-head racing we've seen in Central Arkansas. In my limited experience, it was simply the best. There were many very good riders in the race, but once the leaders broke away, it became a two horse race.The race course included many different challenges and was, for the most part, easily observed by the excited, yelling, cowbell ringing crowd.
The lead went back and forth during the course of the race, with neither of these guys able to get a significant gap. Both had their stronger and weaker points along the course
The bell lap. It was still this close with one lap remaining.
During the last lap Nathan got the biggest gap of the race, probably close to 100 meters, and it looked like Noah was going to run out of time to close it down. With the crowd going absolutely crazy, Noah caught up in a technical stretch and blasted by Nathan to take the win. Both riders deserve praise for their performances, and the crowd was rewarded with a spectacle.
Competitive Cyclist hosted the event and there were plenty of french fries, bratwurst, spaghetti, and root beer for the fans. Though the course was not a mud fest like many 'cross races we see, in my inexperienced view, it was challenging, had varied features that made good use of the terrain, and lent itself well to viewing by the crowd.
I'm not sure who was supposed to be supervising this bunch, but if they couldn't bunny hop, they were likely guilty of running in the playground.
Jason Neeley of Competitive Cyclist was the master of his domain. He was doing a brisk business in frites, brats, and spaghetti on the cold morning.
The "A" Race results
The post-race interview. Singer stated that his next 'cross race would be in the 35+ age group, giving himself a decade or so to prepare.
I really appreciate the effort that goes into organizing an event like this and it is obvious from the turnout that many other folks appreciate it, too. Noah won $40.00, a "DRIVER" belt buckle that appears to have been purchased at a truck stop, a State Champion jersey and bragging rights. I apologize to everyone who raced just as hard as Noah and Nathan for focusing on the two-man front, but it was a damned good story!
My complete photo album of the day is posted on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=33011&id=152255761464527&saved#!/pages/JBar-Cycling/152255761464527
Here's video of the finish from Leslie Singer on YouTube: