The last US World Cup event held in the USA was in 2005 at Angle Fire New Mexico. From what I heard, attendance was low all those years ago. There were almost no spectators on the mountain and hardly a cheer as the world’s fastest riders crossed the finish line. Riders were bummed as well as astonished. What happened to US mountain bike racing?
World Cup racing came back to the US this year (finally), hosted by Windham Mountain in upstate NY. The event was a success to say the least. The weather was perfect, the track was challenging with huge doubles and rock gardens and more importantly the crowd was pumping.
As I hiked the mountain I realized I recognized most of the faces that littered the tree line. It was like East Coast riders took a day off to support the event. The fans cheering in the woods weren’t just people from town who were curious and came to check out the mountain. The people cheering were mostly riders who drove hours with their families and friends in tow. Spectators at Windham knew the riders names, their standings on the circuit, and what width handlebar they choose to ride with.
I would like to say Thank You to all of you who attended the event! You deserve a round of applause! This particular race was proof that World Cup DH racers are appreciated in the USA. US racer Aaron Gwin certainly felt the love! The noise coming from the crowd as Gwin charged down the track was deafening! The power of the crowd routing for the only US rider to podium in years made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The US loves DH racing!
Dirt Magazine issue 104 quote on 4X: “Finals were held to a packed audience (one of the best I’ve seen at a 4X).” “The crowds were crazy with boom boxes, stars and stripes and PBR everywhere…very cool to see.”
Dirt Mag: “Windham was a true homecoming for the USA. The town embraced the event with billboards, banners, menus, even church message boards full of World Cup enthusiasm. “
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World Cup racing will be back next year again at Windham. Be prepared to park you bike for another day (in June) to support the racers once again.