Sacha and I, Tom, are headed to Louisville, KY next Friday for the cyclocross world championships at Eva Bandman Park and Cyclocross Venue. I haven’t been to Louisville since I left Ohio in 2001. Vernor and I used to go to rock shows, play pool, listen to Springsteen, drink bourbon… glory days. This time we’ll be meeting the men of the Speedvagen Team for some racing and shenanigans. Kohey will be racing U23 on Saturday for his home country of Japan and Daisuke will be along as well. Jeff is still around following nationals and spending some quality time with family.
The first official ‘cross worlds were held in 1950 and had been hosted exclusively by, and dominated by, European countries until now. A handful of years ago, when I was finishing up my undergrad work in community development at Portland State University I interviewed the bike planner at the Louisville DOT about their plans to become more bike-friendly. Former Mayor Abramson had committed to $85M in bike projects at the time and Louisville was noted by the League of American Bicyclists to have “…built more bicycle facilities in the past year and a half than in several decades prior.” and was awarded a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation in 2006. Fast forward seven years and…
“Metro Parks began construction of the course at Eva Bandman in 2009, and completed the course prior to the 2010 USGP Derby City Cup. The course combines scenic views of downtown Louisville and the Ohio River but still employs trecherous features such as sand mounds, numerous run-ups, “flyovers,” and wooded areas that will pose challenges for even the most experienced riders.” -City of Louisville
While I don’t know if the $125,000 Louisville Metro paid to build Eva Bandman Park came from the $85M Abramson committed to bike projects in 2006, I do know that they’re about to realize a significant return on investment. In 2009 ‘Cross Nationals in Bend, OR reported $1.08M in direct tourist dollars spent. Not every city is going to have an event like Nationals or Worlds but for $125K every city should have a dedicated ‘cross park.
I am super excited to get to Kentucky for the racing but also to see what’s happening to the city. I love that bikes and bike racing can offer real economic development opportunities. The way that bicycles in the streets make everything a little easier to feel like you’re a person in a place again.
If you’re going to be in Louisville please get in touch, we’d love to see you! Join us for a short ride out River Rd. with our local hosts Drew and TJ, both Vanilla and Speedvagen owners in Louisville. Or just meet us for a coffee with Team Speedvagen, let’s hang out!
An open invitation: Leaving the downtown Marriott Sunday morning at 8:30am and getting coffee at Quills around 10:00am before heading to the women’s race at 11:00am.