Philadelphia International Cycling Classic 1.2
Place: 23rd (+0:46 seconds)
The Philadelphia Cycling classic was quite simply an awesome experience. Our race started earlier than usual at 8am. But this had little deterrence towards the crowd, which started to gather early, and only grew as the race progressed. Consumption of hotdogs and beer was also prevalent during the morning and had a positive correlation with the number of spectators as the day progressed. Combine the above atmosphere with racing at over 45km/h in downtown Manayunk on a slightly narrow and technical circuit including the infamous wall, and you can quickly learn why so many people enjoy the Philadelphia Cycling Classic.
Of course there are plenty of people who do not enjoy this race.The wall is short but it’s very steep and there’s no hiding in the peloton. I opted to use a 29t cassette and I was very happy with my decision. If you start struggling up the climb early, the day could very easily become a long one where you cop unwarranted congratulations and support from spectators who think we’re all awesome for racing our bikes up the hill 9 times. More kudos if you took a beer.
If the wall wasn’t difficult enough, the entry onto it was. We raced along Main St before taking three turns in very quick succession; 90-degree right hander, followed by another 90-degree right hander onto paved cobbles, and then 90-degree left hander coming off the cobbles and pointing us in the direction of the wall. Unsurprisingly everybody wanted to be at the front at this point to avoid getting caught up in the bottleneck. Depending on the urgency of the race, it was mostly full gas leading into the first 90-degree right-hander. We came onto the corners so quick that the guys on the front had to jam on their breaks not to overcook the narrow corners… which meant everybody else had to slam on their brakes even more to avoid running into their rear wheels.
Start near the back, and you’re giving your competitors up to a 20 second head start for a 2-minute climb, maybe even more.
The feed zone is also a dangerous place. I didn’t try to get any bottles or food but somehow ended up having a feedbag from another team sitting on my handlebars suspended predominately by my Garmin. The guy in front of me dropped the bag, and fortunately didn’t land in my wheel. I thought better than wasting it’s contents, so promptly put the bag over my back and explored its interior but didn’t really find anything I wanted.
The winning split of the race happened just over the top of the 2nd last climb. The group had about 15 riders in it and I was probably the last person to miss it. Things were strung out single file with a couple of little gaps here or there. Before I knew it, a slightly bigger gap had opened up a few riders in front of me, which I had to try and move around, but we started going downhill and the gap got bigger as we descended the other side. I was then stuck in limbo; watching the front group ride away, and looking over my shoulder and not seeing the next group behind me.
There was one other rider with me, (in fact it was Bruno Langlois who took the KOM jersey from me in Saguenay) who said he was cramping and couldn’t help me out. We spent a little while chasing but without much horsepower, and after Langlois sat up, it didn’t take long before I was back in the main Peloton again and finished the race in the bunch. Not the best result, but it could have been far worse.
The Philadelphia Classic was simply awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now we’re off to the Tour de Beauce, which starts in a couple of day’s time. I can’t wait!! Hopefully the weather forecast drastically improves over the next day or so. I’m optimistic. After all, its suppose to be summer here. How much faith do we have with the BOM in Melbourne anyway?