Arkansas Footdown Championships

2012 12 14 Vinny Footdown 1

What, we’ve found yet another ridiculous bike-related thing to do? Ummm. Yep.

Avoiding ‘foot down’ is a highly valued skill in bike polo; if you can’t balance on your two wheels and your mallet, and your foot touches the pavement, you’re penalized. I suppose it’s also good to be able to balance without touching down in things like cyclocross and mountain biking, too, since putting a foot on the ground would mean a loss of forward speed and rhythm. Even road bike people like to be able to ride very slowly so that they don’t have to unclip from their pedals. And it goes without saying that people who ride tall bikes and unicycles should avoid the need to put their feet on the pavement. Learning to improve balance, in all kinds of cycling, is important.

2012 12 09 Foot Down Contest

At Burns Park in North LR, just after the final race of this year’s cyclocross season, Keegan Knapp and hosted the first-ever statewide Footdown Championships. Here’s how it worked: Orange traffic cones were set up in a large, loose circle. All the cyclists rode into the circle and then slowly around within it. Anyone who touched a foot down (or fell, or somehow managed to ride out from between the cones) was “out” and had to stand outside. As fewer and fewer bikes were inside the circle, the cones were moved in, so that the field shrank.

2012 12 14 Mandy Footdown 3

Finally, only one cyclist was still riding. That person ‘won’ that round and retired to the sidelines to watch the game continue. There were ten rounds, producing ten winners. Those ten people competed against each other in a final round to decide the winner.

It was fun to watch. There were all kinds of cyclists there: polo players, road bike, cyclocross, and mountain bike people. Some trials-bike guys even showed up. The eventual winner was a young road racer. Mandy won the ‘womens round’ – no surprise – but didn’t do well in the bigger group. I’m not sure if her poor performance should be blamed on lack of practice or the fact that she was laughing for more or less the entire competition.

2013 01 03 Cyclocross Plaque

Oh, but guess what? She found out that she’d somehow placed third in her category in the cyclocross series. It was honestly an award for showing up – most juniors only race two or three times, apparently, and she’d finished four races – but it was still a sort of hilarious thing to win. Yes, that’s right: The plaque features the front half of a stuffed puppy. With dirt on it.