2013 SoCal Cross Season Kickoff at DTLA: Day of the Heckler

So, the 2013-14 Southern California cyclocross season got underway today on the edge of downtown Los Angeles. It was warm, bordering on hot, it was dry, it was dusty, the hecklers were out of control, bikes were falling apart, but through it all, the racers were ready and willing. The Los Angeles State Historic Park does not offer much, if any, relief for racers or spectators. The topography may be naturally unchallenging, but all that mulch that get laid atop that endless expanse of dirt, makes virtually every twist and turn a potential wipeout waiting to happen. The dust cloud that rises with each passing clutch of racers will, no doubt, be coughed out of hundreds of sets of lungs for days to come. It was so dusty that dust devils did not need a breeze to form, the passing of as few as six wheels was enough to give rise to them. It was so dusty that tires simply fell off rims; I kid you not, more than one racer clattered past on a naked rim. It was so dusty that racers were stopping every other lap for a new coat of chain lube; those who didn't suffered grievous wear, and mechanical failure. It was so dusty that my camera will never be the same.

Not everyone was excited about the start of the SoCal Cross season.

But enough about the conditions, what I really wanted to talk about this time are hecklers, for what would cyclocross be without them? Hecklers are an interesting breed. Your general run of the mill spectators will cheer on their favorite racer, or maybe racers, and then go quiet until the same passes by again. Hecklers are just consistently loud, they do not distinguish between friend and foe; in fact friends and teammates of hecklers may receive even more ridicule and jeering than anyone else. Consider it good advice to never slide out, or otherwise crash, at a turn populated by hecklers; and Dog help you, if you happen to be a teammate - I dare say you will never live it down. Spectators are drawn to where ever hecklers hang out; you can bet that this will be the most active part of a course. Fishing for dollars, beer hand ups, jeering, it all adds to the overall excitement and experience of a cyclocross race. Spectators appreciate the efforts of hecklers, racers are encouraged by them (or at least the racers who are not brought to tears are), you can actually sense, as well as see, the increased effort cross racers put in to getting past a mob of hecklers. This begs the question - who are the best hecklers? Cadence? Ritte? Mudfoot? SquareOne? Someone else?
A Flickr set of 101 photos is here. Just a fraction of the 500+ photos I took during the day.

when a Mudfoot rider goes down...

in front of Mudfoot hecklers, everyone around wins

can or bottle?

hecklers tempting minors with alcohol and dollar bills

hecklers engaged in general heckling activities

hecklers applying a switch (whip) to get a group of racers going

Hecklers begin teaching their young un's the craft of heckling at an early age

more general heckling from hecklers

hecklers attempting to distract (or is it attract) the ladies

oh yes, then there is this - you didn't believe me, did you?