Sunday, February 22, 2015

3.14.15 Richmond Baja | Virginia Endurance Series

Richmond Baja​
Route information and all details:
Facebook Event
3.14.15 | 7am | Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream
3600 Forest Hill Ave, Richmond, Virginia 23225
​Choose your pleasure: Race (45-90mi) / Party Pace (25-30mi)

"Races like the Richmond Baja are what keep me involved in cycling. The Baja is one part mountain bike race, one part alleycat, and one part weird mexican navigational nightmare. It's awesome. I like the Baja for a lot of reasons. First, it's put together by friends of mine, and it's always cool to see your friends doing awesome things. Secondly, it's a pretty inclusive event, with an encouraging and fun community, and a strong DIY ethic. Most importantly, the Baja embodies a lot of what cycling is about to me, both from a racer's perspective, and that of someone who sees the community behind the bike.
The Broad Street Hooligans do a lot for the Richmond mountain bike scene. Between the trails, and the Baja itself, the Hooligans are out almost every weekend investing their time and resources in our trail system, with no recompense or payment.They do it because they love riding bikes. I look up to that. It's a clear and simply motivation, and because of it, the Hooligans do a lot of awesome things, and generally don't receive the thanks they deserve. They make an effort not to include their names anywhere, and are all known instead as friends of Steve Justice. The Baja specifically is the only race of its kind in Richmond, and is a fairly unique event nationally, which makes it that much cooler.

The Baja is a pretty inclusive event, and that mentality of inclusivity is what drew me to cycling in the first place. The Hooligans are friendly dudes. The people that race the Baja are friendly people. More so, the race is set up in a way that encourages everyone from beginners to pros. There's a full length, and half length course, and while neither is a walk in the park, they are both definitely do-able. Between that, the proximity of the race to the city, and the overall 'vibe' the event puts offs, it really is meant for everyone. I can say after working as a volunteer and riding a lot of the course this year, that there were no negative experiences. Everyone was friendly and helpful, and all of the racers, riders, tourists, promoters, and Hooligans were just out to have a good time, and it showed.
The best thing about the Baja, and the Hooligans is the DIY ethic that oozes from everything they do. To me, more than anything this is what cycling is about. Want to ride 20 miles? Go do it. Want to learn how to mountain bike? Go fall until you get it right. Cycling for me was and still is a school of hard knocks. I was super fat when I starting riding, and it was only through dragging myself around for an hour or so every day that I got to where I am today. Cycling forces you to rely on yourself. No one can log the miles but you. An adventure race like the Baja really brings this mentality to the forefront. 100 miles is long on a road bike. It's daunting on single track. That combined with the fact that you are responsible for all nutrition, water, and navigation, along with any mechanical failures that may occur make the Baja a tough and unique event. The Hooligans doing a great job not making seem impossible though. With volunteers like myself, and other Hooligans stretched out across the course, there are just enough checkpoints to reassure the riders that they're going the right way.
While working my checkpoints during the last race, I found myself oscillating between encouraging riders who were hurting, and having lighthearted conversations with the guys and gals that were doing just fine and had stopped to grab a beer. It was a blast, and felt like exactly what a bike race should feel like. The Baja reminded me that they're exactly that, bikes, a means to have fun, and get outside. It's easy to get sucked up in gear talk, and racing and numbers, and the Baja sort of throws a lot of that out the window, and brings back the awesome.
-Friend of Steve Justice"

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