Fall brings many things to FresYes each year and this past weekend for the 10th time it saw the event known far and wide as “The Lou“.
Anyone who lives in the valley and races off road, cyclocross specifically, knows about The Lou being one of the few true night races held in the United States where racers fly around the course in the dark with only a bike or helmet mounted light to help pilot them through the dark. Many know about the party atmosphere that is part of The Lou with a live band, food, and a crowd of cyclocrossed crazies to cheer on the racers deep into the night.
What many do not know about this event it is not just another bike race. Its a best friends tribute to a man lost in tragedy far to soon Louie Casiano Jr in the year 2004. JP Sickler with a loyalty not seen often any more puts his heart and soul into this race each year along with his reputation. I knew Louie as one of those race bright personalities always with a smile, joke or ear for a friend who needed it at the drop of the hat. Louie was a promoter of racing, managed a bike shop and a father. In fatherhood Louie found his greatest success and 10 years after his passing you can still see how much of an impact he had on his two boys Tyler and Luis.
Enter The Lou 2014 and the 10th edition held in Woodward Park. JP worked with the park to move the race to a new site for cyclocross and brought me into design a true European style cross course to 1. Promote fast and heated racing and 2. give Louie something to smile down on from above.
For two months we rode, walked and talked over and over again about what Louie would think about this years race and how he would respond if he could tell us his views on what this race means to him.
As the course went together riders slowly started to show up and camps popped up in the pits. BBQ’s were lit, the RawFresno food truck showed up and the band started doing its sound check.
As dusk came so did the crowds, the music ramped up and the energy could be felt rising higher and higher until the racers left the safety of the starting area and off into the dark. While the racing was great with fast fields with a few surprise winners the biggest win of the night was watching Louies family gathered together smiling and letting it all soak in just as they do every other year. Most families do not get the gift of watching their lost loved one be honored year after year by his best friend and the community of cyclist he was so ingrained in.
There are many things that make The Lou a classic but the racing is just a small sliver of what made this 10th edition a success.