Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The trees may yet win

The cyclocross national championships in Austin Texas were just postponed and nearly cancelled due to.... mud.  A cyclocross race without mud is like a surfing contest without waves or a pool tournament without pool cues.  If one is resourceful and determined it can still happen but its just not the same.  One might think that USAC would have had that conversation with Austin Parks department, or maybe just not held the national championships in an unproven location.  I'm pretty sure this would not have happened in Bend Oregon or Steilacoom Washington.

Although USAC has demonstrated their incompetence yet again, it was unfair of the Austin Parks department to suddenly cancel the event.  It happened due to pressure from local citizens and tree advocates.  I can see where they are coming from.  I have seen massive grass carnage, public outcry, and loss of the venue to cyclocross use as a result.  That park in west Seattle and the one and only infamous Beverly Park race come to mind.  As bad as it was- that grass grew back.  Have you ever known grass to not grow back?  Now think of Woodland Park.  Aside from Nationals and a couple of OBRA races, it has to be the largest race in the US in terms of participation.  It takes place in a heavily used public park right smack in the middle of Seattle.  There was some concern among the locals, but it has been mitigated by clear communication and a little clean up work on behalf of the (non USAC) promoter.  The grass still grows here, and the trees have not died.

Dont get me wrong.  I am not a tree expert, but I am a certified tree hugger.  I don't want trees damaged from cyclocross.  Its just that being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, this is what I see:

Sometimes the trees win. In my experience and learning so far, mature trees are damaged by storms, fire, or being cut down.  A mature trees surface roots are quite resilient.  In fact, not even pavement is a match for the slow but persistent and mighty tree root.  I ride over pavement and trails that are buckled from tree roots every day.  Every day I read about environmental travesties of one form or another and it saddens me.  But those tree roots I bump over every day bring me joy, because they remind me that pavement is not forever.  I have seen one good flood erase miles of road.  I have seen neglected trails in the Gifford Pinchot get completely reclaimed by nature in a season or too.  I visited this tree when I was a kid:

It was alive way before any white man lived in the U.S.  Then some white guy decided it was a good idea to carve a hole big enough to drive car through it.  It is still alive and well, and will be a lot longer than you or me.  Not that I approve of carving holes in trees to drive through them.  It probably is something that most Texans would enjoy.

I applaud the tree advocates in Austin, standing up for their trees.  But I think there are bigger threats to trees than bicycle tires.  It must be a bitch living in Austin if you are truly a tree hugger like I am.  I implore the Austin Parks department to book their next continuing education meeting up here.  I can direct you to record setting specimens of western red cedar, douglas fir, spruce, hemlock, and of course the almighty redwood.  

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