Q&A with Chris Grealish
Elevation Outdoors talks turkey with Colorado’s king of cyclocross, just in time for the race season
You run a successful message courier business, Denver-Boulder Couriers, and yet you’ve been monkeying around putting on bike races in Colorado since 1989. What was it that first fed your compulsion?
When I moved here from Boston in 1988, all the good stage races were evaporating. Back in the day, every ski resort had a three-day race, but then they started disappearing. I had just done the Tour of the Loneliest Road—a seven-day stage race across Highway 50—in Nevada. It was put on by VeloPromo, which still exists today. They had a small crew, about 15 people, and looked kind of crusty and beat-up, but I was amazed at the quality and caliber of race such a small team could put on. I was inspired that I could do this in Colorado and help pitch in to keep road racing alive. If I could do it, with no training and no social skills, anyone could do it.
When did you ‘cross over and why?
Well, I was encouraged that no one got killed at my first road race, a 12-mile loop called the Leg Breaker. And we had been going out to cyclocross races in the fall, drinking beer and watching guys suffer. Looking at the Colorado race calendar, I realized how little preparation our local riders had for Cyclocross Nationals because there were only about a half-dozen races in Colorado, and all of them seemed to be at Chatfield Reservoir. I knew I could add something.
This year, you’re on the hook for three ‘cross races in Colorado. Tell us more.
Yep, we’ve got a race at the new Valmont bike park in Boulder on October 17th as part of their ground-breaking ceremony and the Boulder Cup at Harlow Platts Park on November 1st. We’ll also most likely do the state championship, but I’m still in discussion with the American Cycling Association on that one.
Can you comment on the growth of the ‘cross scene in Colorado and why you think it’s so appealing?
It’s become extremely popular in the last 4-5 years; the sport has really accelerated. When I first started putting on races, we’d have 70-80 racers in all categories. Now, we’ll get 500-600. I think a lot of the appeal is that the races are short—it’s a 40-minute balls-out session. So you don’t have to go on five-hour rides to be proficient. The training allows for an outside life. Plus it’s not as much of a chess game as road racing. In ‘cross, typically the strongest guy or girl is going to win. And there’s the fact that it’s spectator-friendly. At Boulder’s Harlow Park race, you can stand in one spot and literally see the entire course. It’s a great festival atmosphere with all those pros throwing down and the crowd and the beer and the Flatirons in the background, and everyone just having a good time.
We’re in line to host the National Cyclocross Championships in 2011 and 2012. (Bend has it for 2009 and 2010) at the new Valmont bike park. We think we’ll be seriously considered and hopefully awarded the national race.