This event I’m about to introduce you to, it could be our Woodstock. I’m serious; keep reading.
One of the real paradoxes of being a bike racer is the dual-phenomenon of community building and self-centered tunnel vision. In any little town, from here in Winston-Salem, NC, to Hamilton, Ontario, and anywhere else I can think of, if I go to a race, I will see someone I know in the time it takes me to walk from my car to registration. The other side of this coin, of course, is the hours of solitary intensity: in the car, in the rain, on the trainer, even in races surrounded by friends and enemies, the inevitable reality of pursuing any sport competitively is a certain amount of isolation. In my former life as a rock climber, I felt many of the same joys, and the same familiar occasional sadness, and I wasn’t even a competitive climber back then.
Cycling and climbing are strange bedfellows in some respects, but in terms of both the intensely tight-knit community and intensely driven, obsessive athletes drawn to each sport, they have a great deal in common. For this reason I suppose there are many folks, like me, with a foot—spiritually at least—in both camps. These are also, sadly, two inherently healthy, lifestyle activities with enormous carbon footprints. We burn a lot of gas trying to get away from it all. Wouldn’t it be pretty amazing if there were a way to express our love for the outdoors, get our competitive juices flowing, and learn some more about conservation in the process? What if we could aim for a zero-impact event at which to do these things? If you make it a 3-day festival and throw in live performances by The Walkmen and The Gaslight Anthem, then you’re in luck. The 2010 Nor’Easter is coming up next weekend at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire. Be there.
For those of you unfortunate enough to just be getting this memo now, let me direct you to a description of the festivities, in its own words. Really, it talks: “The 2010 Nor’easter Powered by Eastern Mountain Sports is a 3 day festival of Sport, Music and Conservation located deep in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. With a unique and eclectic mix of artists on the Nor’easter Main Stage, sports for everyone from top athletes to the very beginner just looking to get your feet wet, a conservation village supporting everyone who makes outdoor recreation possible, an innovation village with the future technology of outdoor gear on display, onsite camping and much, much more The Nor’easter is a one of a kind festival and is not to be missed.”
Yes I did lift that directly from the Nor’Easter website, but read it again. Finished? Right. 3 days. Big music festival. Big climbing competition. Big bike race. Big conservation party. Big deal.
The Nor’Easter is the brainchild of New England impresario and promoter, Pete Ward. In addition to being my brother (full disclosure), Pete is also the guy who is pretty universally credited—along with business partner, Jason Danforth—with having reinvented competition rock climbing in America over the last 6 or 7 years. Under the banner of their promotion company, NE2C, these two have scrapped the traditional model of slow, dry, esoteric competition climbing, that was the norm dating back to the 1980’s, and replaced it with comp climbing for the new millennium. Their version is raw, exciting, in-your-face, edge-of-your-seat sports action. Seriously. They are so good at what they do it’s hard to describe. And the next time you find yourself watching a real nail-biter of a game in any sport, just remember that there are guys like my brother out there who are skilled enough to manufacture those moments—from whole cloth—for us to enjoy. Trust me, he’s that good.
After the success of last year’s inaugural Nor’Easter, title sponsor EMS decided they liked the idea of including some sort of bike event in the party in order to reach their ever-increasing customer base of cyclists. From my perspective, on finding this out, the only logical thing to do was to introduce Pete to Adam Myerson of Cycle-Smart and JD Bilodeau of Pioneer Event Productions. You want a ‘cross race? In New England? You want it done right? Yeah, you want Adam and JD.
As almost everyone reading this column will know, Adam has been promoting UCI sanctioned ‘cross event (his own Cycle-Smart International, in particular) in the U.S., since God was in knickers. What a lot of people might not fully appreciate, however, is Myerson’s evangelical zeal for spreading the gospel of ‘cross as he sees it. This includes re-framing the way we, as athletes, perceive ‘cross racing, but it also includes recasting the role of the sport in our culture, and continuing to believe that it represents a viable product as a spectator sport.
So why not get the guy who re-invented climbing competitions doing business with the guy who has more experience promoting cyclocross in the U.S. than almost anyone else? Why indeed.
Ok, right now I want you to do two things. Yes, you. Pete and Adam have a lot to say, and I have it all written out for you. But, quid pro quo: I need you to do something for me, ok? Good. First, go buy tickets to the Nor’Easter. Second, if you’re a bike racer, and you probably are if you found your way here, I want you to register for the bike race.
When you’re all done with that, check back in here tomorrow for an interview with Pete and Adam, and some of their respective thoughts on why the Awesomeness Factor for this event will be through the roof.