Wednesday, September 23, 2015

UCI Road World Championships 2015 - Day 4

Let's go ride!

Today’s competition involved only the elite men riding Individual Time Trials and they didn’t start until 1:00 pm.

As a result, I got up and took a ride myself on a glorious Virginia day with sunshine and around 60 degrees at 8:00 am. Yep, it was awesome! I took off on one of my regular routes of 23 miles and even had a negative split on the return trip into the wind! I felt so good when I got back, I wasn’t even complaining about the wind. I just bored a hole through it and kept pedaling.

Off to the Races!

My assignment today was an intersection in eastern Henrico County on the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike. (Turnpike is a quaint old word. Many years ago, these were the first toll roads in America. Today, it’s just another street.)

This particular neighborhood is one of many small, older homes, and the inhabitants are primarily African-Americans. It sits less than a mile from Richmond International Raceway, on the northeast side of the city.

I arrived just before my requested appearance time of 11:30 (which seemed awfully early for an afternoon start) and I pulled up behind a Henrico Police cruiser that was parked there. The officer got out as I did and we introduced our selves. He was Officer Andy Brook, a 12 year veteran of the force. Super nice guy, too! We had a wonderful time chatting over the next 4 hours.

As I was setting up, a man came out of the house next to my car and started to
Sid and his lovely wife Shirley
Cheering the cyclists
unfold a lawn chair and place it near the road. He asked me when the race would be starting and I told him it would be at least a two hours before the first rider showed up. We introduced ourselves, his name was Sid – retired from UPS and now the president of the neighborhood watch. Another great guy! He offered something to drink, a bathroom, whatever we needed. I felt like I was at a church picnic or something.

And y'all better behave!
Soon after, a large group of kids and moms showed up across the street, plopped themselves down, and started asking questions about the race. I was able to answer them and talk about when they’d be coming through and how we should
cheer and clap for all of them because it’s a very hard race. The kids started practicing their cheers, including a dance line number, and everyone was ready.

I’d like to point out that every one of the moms spent time parenting. Every time one of the kids would start to act up, they’d get the kids back in line by using their MOM VOICE. The MOM VOICE, which is all powerful, is a lot like MOM SPIT which is all powerful for removing dirt from things. (If you don’t know what this is, you’ve been spoiled all your life.) In other words, it gets stuff done.

Frankly, they sounded like my mom when I was a kid. It was very refreshing to me; I’m used to parents letting kids do whatever they hell they want instead of correcting behaviors. Thanks Moms!

Riders Up! Finally…..

Once the riders began at Kings Dominion amusement park, about 20 miles from our position, it would take them some time to get to us. I pulled up the live feed on my phone and walked around showing everyone what was happening at the start. Most struggled with the notion of a race that doesn’t have everyone starting together. I finally got somewhere talking about speed skating in the Olympics where people start 2 at a time, but their times are compared at the end. Even if you lose your heat, your time may be fast enough to win a medal. That seemed to get the point across.

Around 1:40, the first rider appeared, coming up the hill at a brisk pace. He was wearing number 70 and would be followed every 90 seconds by someone else. At least that’s how they started. Right away, we had 2 riders show up out of order and I then had to explain mechanical failures and flats. Everyone was fascinated by the idea of a bike change happening like a NASCAR pit stop. The kids kept hoping someone would flat coming up the hill so they could see it.
Taylor Phinney powers up the hill!

Riders continued for the better part of 2 hours with the last one passing by about 3:45. The spectators in our little area hung around for the entire time! Every time a motorcycle would appear around the bend, indicating the next rider was coming, moms would say, “Here comes another one!” and the kids would all jump to their feet or stop what they were doing and start clapping and cheering! It was awesome! (At one point before the first rider came through, a cyclist who wasn’t racing, came up the hill and he got a cheer, too. His grin was awesome!) Sid and his wife Shirley would wave their American Flags at each rider, too.

All this time, cars kept appearing at our cross street and the officer would wave them across when it was safe to do so. No one got upset, no one lost their temper, and the riders were all kept safe and exhorted to do well.

I think our spot was the best on the course. We got everyone involved and it was great fun.

I’m not sure if any of these kids will grown up to be bike racers but you could tell they were intrigued by the whole thing. They were asking me about the bikes, why they looked so different, how they worked, what the disc wheels did, etc. They all said the saddles looked uncomfortable. When I pointed out it was all about making you go faster and that’s why they used them, they began to get the idea of sacrifice in order to get speed. You could tell that they were understanding that sacrifice was something you do in order to get something; in this case, a world championship.


Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus put up a smoldering time of 1:02:29 over the difficult 33.2 mile course to claim the rainbow jersey. This was the biggest win of the 31 year old’s pro career and he was lauded for such a strong performance. 2nd went to Adriano Malori and Italy who put up a time that was only 9 seconds slower. He held the top spot for about an hour before Kiryienka came through. Frenchman Jerome Coppel finished 3rd, another 17 seconds back. American Taylor Phinney, fresh off a gold medal in the team time trial with BMC, could do no better than 12th.


Time trials are not very spectator friendly if you don’t know what’s going on. I feel very good about educating a small group of people today on the nuances of it.

Richmonders want to enjoy the bike races. Truly. And they also want to show the world a good time. But most are not very worldly and it shows to some degree. 

Geography is not a strong suit here. (I was asked for the location of several countries after the riders went past. I started asking them to Google it. The kids were all over it, too.)

Tomorrow is a no-race day as the competitors get some practice on the road course. I’ll be working the Fan Fest for a few hours.

Friday starts the road course with Sunday being the big race as the Elite Men ride 16 laps or 162 miles!

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