From the 2014 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships Technical Guide (Posted 1/6/2014):

If you drove into Boulder in daylight, you could not have missed its stunning mountain backdrop and the wide swath of undeveloped land encircling it. Thanks to the foresight of its citizens, Boulder has not been absorbed into the urban sprawl of neighboring communities because it owns a 40-mile continuous ring of undeveloped land around itself. In 1959, Boulder residents created the 5750-foot "Blue Line" boundary; in 1967, they voted in a tax to set aside land as Open Space, which now comprises 97,000 acres permanently free from development, and in 1976, Boulder capped residential growth at 2 percent annually. Its vibrant economy is testament to the wisdom of not growing too quickly.

Bike racers began flocking to Boulder with the 1975 inception of the Red Zinger Classic stage race. In 1980, the race became the Coors Classic, and its Boulder stages attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators every year. The USA Pro Challenge stands on its shoulders and continues to bring in top riders from all over the world. Cyclo-cross racing in Boulder dates back to the beginning of the 1980s and now features over 30 races each season within an hour's driving radius.

So drink in the ambience and hospitality of one of the healthiest cities in the nation. And above all, enjoy the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships at one of the crown jewels of Boulder's cycling infrastructure: the Valmont Bike Park!

Average high/low temperatures for January: 47°F/22°F
Sunrise/sunset for January: 7:19 a.m./ 4:51 p.m.

I gotta leave it all out there, that's what you do at Nationals. I'm going to try really hard to win. My general strategy is to start well; crazy crashes happen more often at Nationals. Everyone has a lot of nerves and is desperate to get a good start, so the first few minutes end up being really twitchy.

—Jamey Driscoll

Evan Murphy is 26 years old, lives in New York City and races for NYC Velo CX. He finished 59th. Walton Brush 24, lives in San Francisco and races for MASH SF. He finished 39th. We spoke with both of them in the middle of a  practice lap on the morning of 12 January, 2014, several hours before the start of the USA Cycling Men's Cyclocross National Championships. We caught them in a corner at the top of some stairs and the first big run-up of the course. What follows is a transcription of that conversation. The first question we asked, obviously (obvs), was "what did you have for breakfast this morning?"

Evan Murphy: I had gravlax, which is like ceviche with salmon, and granola with non-fat Chobani, 'Greek yogurt son'. Then coffee. We also had red seedless grapes. Last night we watched Louis and Two and a Half Men, which just came on after Louis.

Manual For Speed: Dude, Two and a Half Men? The night before a race?

EM: We were too tired to change the channel. Look, when you're recovering before Nationals you can't get up to change the channel. I mean think about it, if I had gotten up and walked across the room to the TV I would have expended  at least 1.5 maybe 2 calories right, when you're recovering you need all of them (calories). Listen, the kid's uncle had a hot chick over, and the kid was like, "Will you grab that plate in the high cupboard for me?" and as she's grabbing it, her shirt lifts up and he sees her thong and tramp stamp. The kid gets obsessed and the father thinks he needs a talking to, but the uncle is totally on the son's level.

MFS: Hey so what happens if in the middle of the race you're not feeling it, like what then?

EM: I've only turned it off and gone for beer hand-ups once. And check this out, this dude handed me a beer with sand in it. It was really fucked up. I thought he was fucking with me, so I went up to him after the race and told him it was a fucked up thing to do. And he says, "DUDE I am SO sorry. I forgot that it was homebrew!"

MFS: This tournament cycle track course looks neat, is it neat?

Walton Brush: Some courses are definitely better than others. I'd say this is a 9 out of 10, because it has so much power. So many straightaways. But everything else is technical. The mud kind of swept away all the dirt, so any rock or root left is super exposed. The wind is pretty bad, especially if you're alone on these straightaways.

EM: The altitude means that if you bonk you're going to go embarrassingly slow, so it's better to play it safe in the beginning. And being in the middle and back of the field means it's important to avoid crashes and trouble.

[Walton cuts in.]

You're asking a guy who's starting 110th out of 120 places. There are no USAC races in California so it looks like I've raced three times this year. And though my races are slower out there, it's still not rad. West Coast plague. I think it just means next season I'm going to have to travel way more, the guys from California who travel are starting near Evan in the middle.

[Evan, once again.]

Yeah, UCI points are like gold coins. We're all trying to get them.

MFS: What are you doing after the race?

EM: We bought juice, Pellegrino, trail mix. Oh, like after this race like tomorrow and beyond, like the future? I'm going to San Francisco to hang out with Walton and my brother. We're gonna ride. For fun. Then I'm taking a break before getting ready for road season, it never ends. Last year I won eight races, so I want to win nine this year. Dare to dream. But the races won't be as easy.

MFS: Are you a professional cyclists, a neo-pro or a nearly neo-pro. What are you?

EM: I'm not pro. Well, Neil's on my team, and he says we're pros. His justification is like, "I gotta fill out a 1099, I gotta do fucking taxes." But I don't have a pro license, or some fancy contract.

2014 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships: Elite Women

2014 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships: Elite Men

"I HAVE NEVER FALLEN IN LOVE WITH A CROWD THE WAY I HAVE WITH THIS CROWD IN BOULDER!"—Dave Towle, Race Announcer