Itâ€™s 6:30 on the West Coast, and on the eve of the Gran Prix of Gloucester, that means in the East, everybodyâ€™s in.Â Â Flights have landed,Â couches are being surfed.Â Â Miles of tarmac up the eastern seaboard are finally behind, and itâ€™s go time.
Itâ€™s hard to describe to people on the West Coast the energy and the feeling in and around Boston on the eve of Gloucester.Â That city has been buzzing for weeks, months.Â Â Cat 4â€™s with no hope of finishing on the lead lap have been planning vacations, power levels, sick time, and all major purchases around this weekend.Â Â Kit orders, pop-up tents, Sprinter decaling:Â theyâ€™ve all had a pending deadline, and that deadline is Gloucester.Â Bars have been filled for weeks by single, white males in 28/32 Leviâ€™s, reminiscing about the 2005 white out edition, who might get the hole shot this year, and how 35th place will feel.
Cyclocross has come a long way in the last fifteen years.Â Â In every major city, there is now a legitimate cross series.Â In some cities, there are two.Â Â But in a me-too world, itâ€™s hard not to see the clichĂ© and the impersonation of cross being played out, in some odd and tragic forms.
But, no doubt about it, the Gran Prix of Gloucester is the real deal.
Gloucester is like thinking you know every present youâ€™re getting for Christmas, and then the last one comes from behind the couch and blows your mind and you go mental, and the first thing you think is, â€śI have to wait another 365 days for this moment?â€ť
Iâ€™ve been fortunate enough to have ridden the scared grounds of Gloucester on and off since 2000.Â Â One of my all-time cherished palmares is a mild 9th place (cracking the top-10 in the 2005 edition, Day 1).Â Â Iâ€™ve seen placings in the 30ths way too many times, but I wouldnâ€™t trade it for a win.Â Just when I thought I had seen it all at Gloucester, there was more.
Richard Fries dressed as Dick Ring wasnâ€™t enough?
How about an Italian Elf called Daniele Pontoni?
Pontoni running barriers with his mouth closed didn’t interest you?
How about Vervecken and the rest of the Elite men with smoke machines, busting through hoops of paper Super Bowl style?
Or how about a blizzard?Â And then sunshine?
The start goes down the hill?
Seawall wasnâ€™t enough for you?
How about a run-up through the woods?
Who wants a fly-over?
Oh sure, we can do a beach run!
Though some of the new features and elements Iâ€™ve only viewed from afar, I can say with certainty that there will be â€śa thingâ€ť this weekend, leaving itâ€™s stamp on 2012.Â Â Who knows, maybe a baby with the middle name GSTAR will arrive for PVB.
My point is this:Â Â Gloucester is sacred, Gloucester is tradition, but it also evolves, shifts, turns right-side up, and feels dynamic, fresh, and authentic.Â I donâ€™t know Paul or the rest of the ECV crew that well, just from the landscape theyâ€™ve manufactured year after year.Â The coldest Iâ€™ve ever been in my life was in the upper parking lot of Stage Fort Park, and Iâ€™ll remember that day forever.
On the eve of the Gloucester weekend, Iâ€™d like to personally thank all those involved with the race (spectators, race promoters, vendors, Canadians named Pascal) for all the fond memories.
Gloucester 2012:Â Make it so.