Borovets Open Cup 2017 marked the end of season 2017 in a very special way. Skip right past the podium pics, the usual press release cliches and the result sheets - the important thing about this race is that it felt different from most others. It felt more fun.
Usually it’s all about who’s going to be fastest - racing is serious business, especially at this level. The UCI Class 1 ranking meant a bunch of elite riders made the trip from various parts of Europe to chase points. Who they were though (top-tier Brits and fast French riders) and what they did (dominate the entire field) is now almost irrelevant - despite being outstanding, their results will not stand the test of time. They will blur and fade out from our memory just as quick as they made their way down Scary Movie. A couple of years from now we won’t even know half of who was in that Elite top 10. Most people will still insist UCI Class 1 is a big deal and they’ll probably be right, as it brings in a lot of fast riders. But fast riders don’t make a race… Or do they?
I think there was something else as well. There was a subtle but powerful and infectious buzz that could only really be felt out there on the race track itself. It was on peoples’ faces - hungry eyes, mouths agape, clear signs of wild euphoria. It wasn’t the fact that it was there - you get that very same euphoria when you witness or do something crazy on a bike. It was the pure intensity of it and how long it actually lasted - we were all buzzing with excitement for three days straight!
Borovets Open Cup 2017 was truly a celebration of all the things that are fun about bike racing. Riding loose on a wild track, finding incredible flow, blasting through brown powder in loamy new sections, sharing runs with old and new buddies from all ages and many different countries, learning from eachother and upping your game. Most races provide at least a few of these elements, but very rarely a single event brings it all together like this. When it does it’s no longer about who’s fastest - it’s about having the most fun.
I can only hope I’ve captured this vibe well enough in my photos. And I can only tell you about the hoots and hollers that echoed down the mountain as the riders ripped the track to bits, feasting on those last three days of lift-assisted riding in Borovets Mountainbike Park. That’s exactly why that race turned out so awesome - while the actual racing never really took a back seat, the event as a whole felt more like a giant season-closing party. Borovets Open Cup 2017 truly was special!