World Cup cyclocross is a spectacle to behold. Steeped in European tradition, cyclocross races bring so much fun to the sport of cycling. They become a wild celebration of athletic camaraderie and fan admiration. Fans drink beers, sing songs, play trumpets and trombones. The athletes perform like mud bathed ballerinas slipping and sliding in an all out, hour-long effort. These festivals begin in the Fall and go through the Winter months.
The DeFeet Team loaded up our sprinter vans and trailers, packed with socks and anticipation. The drive was splendid as we crossed over to Tennessee into Kentucky, up to Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and finally Wisconsin. The venue was the Trek World HQ, and what a campus it is. Nestled in the farming community of Waterloo, Trek has a large footprint on Wisconsin as a global leader of the cycling industry.
The fans. Lets start with the fans. They have a deep respect for the racers, regardless of the category or fame of the rider. Many of the fans are amateur racers themselves and deeply love this eclectic sport. They like to dress up. Donning a banana suit, a tutu, a wig, a wag and an old leather bag. The fans are as important as the racers. It's like college basketball's march madness on two wheels.
The racers, including the elite, are very accessible. Laps in Waterloo were about 14 minutes for the slower riders and about 7 minutes for the world's best. Walking around in the pits you can chat up your favorite rider, take selfies and just enjoy the setting.
The DeFeet booth was packed. Fans were stopping by to say "Hi" and tell us about their favorite DeFeet sock. Jens Voigt came by the booth to share his Woolie Boolie story. “I got these Woolie Boolies from Bobby Julich in 1998", he told us, adding "I cant even believe this, I can still wear them. They don't have no holes, they keep going and I say 'Don't shut up socks!'”. Jensi is a gem a great personality.
We had a “Wheel of Fortune” contest at the booth. Step up and spin the wheel to win free socks or a tailwind on your next ride. Everyone wanted a spin on that wheel. They watched as it spun, trying to stop the inertia as it came close to "Free Sock" and then the final click would be the tale of good or bad luck. As we told the contestants, we are all winners to be back outside after such a crappy global pandemic.
As a bonus, we even held a contest for a $500 prize pack from our partners Shimano Shoes, Lazer Helmets, Bryton cycling computers and Kenda Tires. Special thanks to these great brands for participating and adding to the excitement of the event.
The smiles and laughter were contagious, and it was perfect weather for cyclocross. Some rain, some wind, some beautiful sunny skies. Yes, we were outside playing in the Wisconsin mud, enjoying pommes frites and Belgian waffles.