Events: Philadelphia International Cycling Classic 2016
(2016) Naturally this event isn’t an everyman- or everywoman for that matter- gathering so bear with me. For over thirty years, the city of Philadelphia has closed its streets in early June for bike racers in the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship to attack each other in some of the famous spots on cycling. There’s the famous Manyunk “Wall.” At 17% at its steepest, it evokes images of the raucous local crowd lining the barriers as the pros come through several times. There’s the enjoyable Lemon Hill where one can find industry tents as well as local race team tents. Then there’s the Kelly Drive that puts the incredible speed of the race on display. But let’s back up to why this is an ‘event’ and not quite a ‘being there.’ Yet.
I received a team email today asking who was doing what this weekend. The unique location of this race allows many Bucks and Montgomery County riders to collect their bikes and kits, roll out during the quiet portion of Sunday morning, and pedal to the race. The email chain stated many were anticipating doing this approach, weather permitting.
To get to the race one must access several paths that lead straight to Manyunk. Getting there early in the morning used to see locals tackle a majority of the course en masse. One of the year I did just that: I rode the course with the Missus and her father. It was quite the experience going up The Wall with hundreds of riders at once.
Backing up to Saturday sees the chance for riders to join the Rapha sponsored Canyon/ SRAM women’s team for an easy thirty. There is also a fifty mile ride option. I’m sure riders will be breathing hard with poker faces trying to keep up. The accessibility of this team provides wonders for the future of the women’s race in Philadelphia. The ladies will then roll up to the Cosmic Cafe at 1 Boathouse Row for lunch at 1:00pm. (As of press time there were forty confirmed riders for this event on Facebook.)
But let us back up even further to Thursday, June 2.
Starting in mid-March in a beautifully kept industrial park in Malvern, PA, training criterium riders roll out of the parking lots to an invisible starting line. At precisely 6:00pm, they roll off in a clockwise fashion and begin to ramp up the pace over the one mile course. There is a brief climb in what would be considered turn two, but that leads to a smoking fast return to the start/finish line. Thirty laps, points format. The laps tick off rather quickly. Feel free to show up late and join the group, but if you do, be advised you are ineligible to contest the finishing sprint.
So how does this impact the Philly Classic? Timing. This Thursday some of the pros show up to the training crit and sober those who hammer away each Thursday on the circuit. It’s a great way to see if one can hang in there with a professional team or a professional breakaway specialist. When it’s free, the admission can’t be beat.
In the team email it was stressed not to be the guy who takes out a pro prior to the race this weekend. That’s kind of my guys to think I’d be in front of or in the vicinity of a pro at any given time over the thirty miles. I have other concerns.
Should I find myself caught up in a tussle my first concern is making sure no pro is involved. I would follow this up with making sure my team kit is not snagged on anything; I only have one. But- and this is for anyone who knows- I am currently rocking a shifter lever on loan from a bike mechanic. It is his personal surplus lever. Should I make it to the race and find myself heading to the pavement, I will protect this lever with my body. Those who know mechanics will agree with me. Less pain would be inflicted in a bike crash than an ornery mechanic who sees what is left of his lever after trying to explain that it “…wasn’t my fault, man, honest.”
I’ve regularly stated this area is tough to beat with the cycling events; the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic is always on the list of events to attend. Consider the fact this race has been won by the likes of Eric Heiden, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie (whose team will be at the start), Fast Freddy Rodriguez, Greg Henderson, and Andre Griepel, this is no cheeky local slugfest. The fact that the UCI upgraded the race to a 1.1 status means the old event is seeing a renaissance. To see riders of tomorrow for the men’s and women’s peloton zoom by several times is not something to be dismissed lightly. While it’s not a course that can be walked to be regarded from all angles, perhaps one can do what one spectator did the first year I attended when it was the Corestates Race: a man set up his stationary bike on the sidewalk near the feedzone, donned his hockey helmet, and pedaled for the race’s entirety. It’s certainly an event to be experienced on many fronts.
Great Valley Training Criterium takes place at the Great Valley Corporate Center in Malvern ever Thursday night. Start time is 6:00pm. This race is not sanctioned and has no race fee.
Paine’s Park will be the meeting place for cyclists to ride with the Rapha Canyon/SRAM women’s cycling team. The roll-out time is 9:00am. The ride is expected to be about thirty miles.
Manyunk is the start finish line for both the men’s and women’s bike race. The Men’s UCI 1.1 race starts at 8:00am. The women’s World Tour Race starts at 12:30pm. Most of the course is free to access with VIP tents in some of the more exciting areas.