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This Mountain Biking Race Is A Muddy Catastrophe You Can’t Stop Watching

“We want to tread that line between it being really dangerous and really fun,” said the course’s designer.

The organizers of the USA Cyclocross National Championships knew exactly what they were doing when they scheduled the race for this time of year in Hartford, CT. It might not be the most hospitable for fans with near-freezing temperatures and muddy ground. But what the setting lacks in comfort it more than makes up for by transforming the race into a near-chaotic scramble that sees as many riders on the ground as on their bikes at any given time.

This clip shows men aged 50-59, God help them, finding their way down the hill with a lot of help from gravity and a slick, muddy surface.

While age might not be the only factor in success here, it’s clear that the 40-49 group had a much better go of things, though I’m as likely to chalk that up to dumb luck as I am skill.

The course designer, Keegan Schelling, said in this interview that he was going for just this outcome when he plotted out the course, stating,"A good course should be a well-balanced mixture of difficulty and dynamic features — steep climbs, slippery, muddy sections, stuff that keeps everybody on their toes. We want to tread that line between it being really dangerous and really fun.”

Well, if those were his criteria, I would say he’s successful on every level...for now. The weather report for the weekend suggests higher temperatures and no rain, so this event could take a turn towards the safe and predictable as the crop of elite-level racers square off in the coming days.

When he described the flood control dike portion that you saw in the clips above, Schelling colorfully described the segment as “soul-crushing” stating, “That will be the place to watch the race if you want to watch people suffer."

As long as no one gets seriously hurt, who among us doesn’t want to see people voluntarily subject themselves to this muddy, cold downhill tumble?

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