3 December 2011 | Race Reports
The Birth of “HeckleMe” & the Louisville USGP Race Report
The idea for #heckleme started innocently enough. I had 3 mediocre races in a row (a string of 6th place finishes in Cincinnati- I won’t bore you with the details), and I was willing to try anything to make myself ride faster. Lots of people were cheering for me in the races, but I felt that “great job!” wasn’t really a good description of what I was doing. I knew some people would feel bad heckling me or would feel uncomfortable being “mean” so I made it a contest. After all, offer a prize (in this case a box of Luna bars) and you will be amazed at how quickly people lose their scruples! So, after the Cincinnati races I invited my Twitter followers to come up with their best heckle. And boy did they come up with some good ones. The original contest was for the best heckle I heard DURING each of the USGP races, but there were so many good ones that I ended up giving out multiple prizes.
USGP Day 1. I had a slow start, and things didn’t get better from there. The course was super fast, and it was difficult to move up. I was suffering and felt much the same as I had the past weekend- kind of flat. Luckily, there were tons of people out heckling (and cheering- seems some folks couldn’t bring themselves to poke fun at my slowness). Here are some of the Day 1 heckles:
“Get to the pit! Your bike needs a rider change!”
“Amy Winehouse does better lines than you!”
“My grandma rides faster than you!” (one brave kid!)
“What’s the equal payout for 23rd?”
“Editing my dissertation was more exciting than watching you race!”
“Can you get Katie Compton’s autograph for me when she laps you?”
I was so flattered that so many people participated in #heckleme! There were some really hilarious heckles, some kind-of-mean-but-still-funny heckles, and some bad heckles too. I was happy to serve as the butt of so many funny jokes. In a few post-race interviews I was asked what my goals were for the next day’s race. “I’m really hoping to crack the top-30” I joked. If I only knew…
Day 2. A few hours before the race, I was in the Luna pit area when a young girl came up and said that she had heckled me during the previous day’s race and “if you want to get me back….my race is in an hour.” Seriously?? A kid was actually ASKING to be heckled? It was a challenge I couldn’t resist. I heckled her all the way to winning her race (with the help of a megaphone provided by her own mother!). It was a blast.
After the junior race, it was time for me to get ready for my own race. I had decided that this would be my last ‘cross race of the season, so I was ready to leave it all out there and really go for it. I wanted the hole shot! The gun went off and I got about 5 pedal strokes in before I got horrible chain-suck. I hadn’t even made it off the pavement. I got off my bike and tried to dislodge my chain, but it was wedged tightly between the chainring and the frame. I started running.
“This isn’t a 10k, it’s a ‘cross race!”
“I can ride a unicycle faster!” (another kid)
A couple people held posters that just said “you’re doing it wrong!”
I laughed as some people heckled, but most people cheered me on as I ran the flats and uphills and
coasted the downhills until I got to the pit and got a new bike. I charged off, still in dead last- hoping to at least pick off a few people. As I rounded a corner, a throng of spectators (led by my Superfan- my hero) burst into song: “Allll byyyyy my-selllllllf…..” I laughed, and kept drilling it. I was pretty sure I was going to get lapped (and pulled), so I really laid it out there. Slowly, slowly I started to pick people off. I was actually feeling pretty decent and I was pretty bummed that I didn’t have a chance to really RACE that last race. I did, however, get the chance to do a “feel-up”- some rowdy spectators had gotten in trouble for doing beer and dollar bill hand-ups, so they brought a blow-up doll and were offering racers “cop-a-feel-ups”. It was hilarious. As I rode by the pit there were plenty of heckles (thanks Geoff Kabush for some funny but not family-friendly ones…). I ended up 29th. Oh well, at least I cracked the top-30…..which was my goal….
Really, the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd that weekend is why I LOVE cyclocross. The fact that sooo many people participated (friends, competitors, kids, total strangers, my mom…) both in-person and over the internet shows why cyclocross is so awesome. And that’s why I am going to come back stronger than ever next year! So start saving up your heckles, you have about 9.5 months.