He stood mid-field under the Friday night lights with lots of smiles, a fresh Sharpie for autographs and a giant check. Lawson Craddock had come home to Houston, one year to the date that Hurricane Harvey had battered his hometown velodrome, one month after his inspirational ‘Fight for Paris’ following his crash on the opening stage of the Tour de France.
Craddock’s efforts garnered worldwide attention and over $290,000 in donations to support the Alkek Velodrome and the Greater Houston Cycling Foundation. An on-site raffle for items ranging from an iPhone X to Craddock’s Tour de France jersey, number still pinned, raised additional funds.
Despite the high temperatures and humidity, more than 450 attendees as young as eight and as old as eighty, with many partaking in the Friday night races, come out for the celebration. Craddock provided the lead-out for the Lawson Craddock Youth Cycling League on a Cannondale track bike. The winner of the race, a tween girl, only started riding last year. Her inspiration? Craddock, of course.
Craddock told the crowd his Fight for Paris was “career defining, the most important thing I’ve done or will ever do as a cyclist” before sharing a surprise announcement with event attendees. In part due to the spotlight Craddock directed on the Houston Velodrome, USA Cycling has named Alkek Velodrome a Center of Excellence for US Cycling Development program (DEVO) to specifically nurture and develop youth cyclists.
All images: Corvin Alstot