/Mud, forest and bicycles

Mud, forest and bicycles

The Dutchman won the race. You could see dissatisfaction on the faces of some people in the audience. It was cyclocross in Belgian city and some people just didn’t like the fact that Dutch guy won the race. On the other hand, when Mathieu van der Poel crossed the finish line, people were cheering and there were conffeti everywhere. It was about sport after all, not about nationality.

Cold and dark november day. Hundreds, even thousands of people gathered in small Belgian city of Gavere to participate in big event – cyclocross.  Situated on a hill, with a trail that goes through the forest, over the river and through mud, this race gathered people of all ages. You could see children wearing tiny rubber boots and jumping into puddles, youngsters who are laughing and teasing each other, older people who are drinking beer and couples holding hands and walking around the forest. When race started, everyone gathered around tracks and waited for cyclists to pass. Cheering in distance hinted the arrival of the cyclist. With passing of the first cyclist, cheering became louder and people clapped their hands to support it. And cyclists, covered in mud, tried their best not to fall because of slippery terrain, and to climb hills in no time. Now and then, you could hear audience getting silent for few moments because some cyclist fell, but only to continue chanting even louder to support it. Lot of noises, murmur and music playing everywhere. „Mathieu van der Poel is currently in the first place.“, could be heard occasionally from speakers hanged on trees. With every announcement made, people started rooting for their favourite cyclist even more and shouted encouraging words on dutch. But race was almost over, and Mathieu van der Poel was still at the first place. Tension grew from minute to minute. Voices became louder, and audience was overwhelmed by competitive spirit.

The Dutchman won the race. It took him one hour and four minutes to complete the race. You could see dissatisfaction on the faces of some people in the audience, but everyone was happy. They all came for good show, and they got it. After the race, as the night began to fall, people quietly started going home. It was tiresome cyclocross for both cyclist and audience, but judging by the smile on their faces,  it was worth.