Welcome to the Party

diehard-partyThis weekend I attended a party and a bike race broke out. Okay it was actually billed as a bike race, but I’ve been to this annual event and it always feels more like a party to me…a crazy, muddy, inappropriate dress up party. One of those parties where you never know what to expect, like a Bruce Willis movie. This party had no thieves posing as terrorists, no coke snortin’ douche bags, no donut eatin’ cops or stereotypical FBI agents with a bag of bad ideas. Instead we were treated to a couple of hairy ballet dancers, a black cat, a yard gnome and a #cliffmastree. The last character may have been in Nakatomi Tower and one Die Hard thief was really a ballet dancer (Google it). Other than that the similarities were sparse.

This happened.
This happened.

The annual Arkansas Super-Prestige Night Cross event at Interstate Park in Little Rock is not to be missed. Even the weather gods seem to know that it’s the place to be seen at the beginning of the holiday season, the holiday season that starts with traditional halloween parties and rolls right on through the super bowl events. This year, after weeks of drought like conditions we finally got the rain we’ve been in need of, saturating the ground making things slippery throughout Arkansas and particularly at Interstate Park on the south side of Little Rock. As race time got close the rain receded a bit and the first of the races went off. Those who had pre-ridden the course knew of the slick corners, occasional mud holes and sidewalk edges. Trevor Edwards of Chainwheel did another great job of course layout with a long but fast course with only one set of barriers, but plenty of on bike technical challenges with tight quick turns and punchy uphill sections.

The Gnome
The Gnome

One of the great things about the night races is that the fans don’t wander the dark course as much as they tend to during day races and the party tends to stay in one area. Music is blaring thanks to Bob Ocken, one of the ballerinas of the evening. Beer was supplied by local favorites Vino’s and Lost 40 Brewery. Pizza was also available from Vino’s. A few tents were set up along the course where spectators could cheer and jeer as the sound of cowbells fought the music for dominance in the night. As various races started and ended time was spent with muddy friends cheering each other on. Lisa and I showed up for the party, but soon found ourselves wishing we were racing.

Bring on the pain.
Bring on the pain.
The kids lining up.
The kids lining up.

Just before the final race of the evening the kids got their chance to do a short lap. They had been riding all over the spectator area all night and were having a blast playing in the mud puddles, something we could all spend more time doing.

The last race of the evening was the open event. This is the toughest field of the evening and the longest race. Chad Cragle decided early on that it would be his race and he did not disappoint winning by over 2 minutes on the second place competitor. Awards were given out and podium photos taken as people milled around not wanting the evening to be over. Race volunteers began taking down the ribbon, the beer cooler was cleaned out and vehicles began to disappear from the scene.  A great party, even if there was that distracting race going on.

The Open Race Start.
The Open Race Start.
The #Cliffmastree
The #Cliffmastree
Winners.
Winners.

The next party race will be two days long at Western Hills in West Little Rock. See you there.