The weather should be lovely, mid- to upper 60's by mid-day, with a funk band, food vendor, sausage primes, equal (and good sized) payouts for men's and women's elite races, and a course...
Well, the course has something for everybody, as a lot of people who pre-rode it noted.
There is a long fitness test of a slog up a bumpy grass false flat.
There are a couple hills you can rock if you keep your speed up but which will suck the ever-loving life right out of your soul if you don't understand flow and momentum.
There are several handling challenges where, if you over brake or fail to steer smart, you will be gapped.
There are a couple downhills that require cold-cup-of-coffee-at-4:00-AM courage, to put it mildly.
And there is a set of twists and turns around the pavilions and fans that will cause you to simultaneously get dizzy, hyperventilate, smile, and wonder what kind of sick sadistic bastard laid the course out.
The other comment we got from other teams that pre-rode, is that "it's a typical Tacchino course." By that I think they meant it is fast, has some handling challenges, and is physically very difficult. It won't be DCCX difficult, where you just get knocked on your ass quickly and stay there, it's more like the course toys with you and keeps hitting you just hard enough to knock you down, but not out. You can recover just enough between the clearly recognizable sections of the course for it to not feel bad about kicking your ass again in the next section. "You really want to get up, little man? So be it..."
I hadn't thought about how the Tacchino could have a common of character over a period of years despite different promoters and course designers and different venues, but I guess it's true. There's sort of a Coppi attitude about what makes a good cross course and most of us gravitate to it. We tend to try to take advantage of the natural law of the land, eschewing gimmicks in favor of taking the challenges that the venue throws up for us. We don't throw in gratuitous curves, but value momentum, courageous handling at speed (ask everybody who slipped out last year about that), and in tight spots a linking of the corners and a discoverable good line that a mountain biker would recognize as flow. There's always at least one good fast line through any feature we build in, sometimes two, forcing the rider to make a tough choice. It's very fair, but it's very, very ****ing hard.
It's funny how that happens. We aren't consciously trying to design by that philosophy, it's just what we seem to like to ride on in a cross course, even though it is patently unsuited for quite a few of us who will race on it. Maybe that attitude is at the heart of amateur racing itself - few of us will ever be paid to race, but we love racing, and know good racing when we see it, and given a chance, know how to make a good race.
As a promoter I take comfort in knowing that the race is bigger than me or any of the promoters that have promoted it and designed the course in the past. It tells me that we're striving toward some objective notion of The Good. Either that, or we're uniformly bad and just don't know it, in which case ignorance is bliss, and if we aren't enlightened we are at least very, very happy.
Anyhow, the secret intel I will give my readers about how to succeed on this course is:
Take up mountain biking and start doing lots of threshold intervals. Preferably by last June, if not by last April.
That is all.