Defining Moments of 2020: The Cancellation of the Vail Lake UCI Race, March 15, 2020

Vincent Thiboutot of the Pivot Cycles On the Edge Team from Quebec, Canada, flies over one of the jumps at the Vail Lake RV Resort in Temecula, California, on March 15, 2020. (Photo by John Ker/MBA)

This past year has probably been the strangest year most us have ever experienced. We had almost no major mountain bike races in America, and very few in the rest of the world, too, until the UCI finally had a few World Cup races and the World Championships in the fall, after having canceled or rescheduled nearly everything from the spring and summer months.

The first race cancellation to personally affect our staff came  in March at the Vail Lake RV resort in Temecula, California. I drove there to see and photograph the top pros competing in the UCI cross-country race that was supposed to be held there that Sunday, but when I got there, the ranger at the  gate told me that the race had been canceled and everyone was being sent home. The insurance company that was going to cover the race had been forced to pull their insurance coverage Saturday, so the promoters had to cancel the race. I asked the ranger if I could go inside to see what it looked like, and he let me into the park so I could check it out.

Most of the teams had already left, but there were still maybe 20 or 30 racers  hanging out and riding around the track. They seemed to be mostly riders from far away, places like Canada and New Zealand. They probably had their flights booked for the next day, so they stayed around a few extra hours on Sunday to get some riding in on the course. I shot a bunch of photos and talked with some of the riders  before heading home myself. That was the start of the COVID-19 shutdown for me.

I sure hope 2021 works out better. —John Ker/MBA)