Another sunny June Sunday and another world-class bike race. Man, we are fortunate.
It took more work than ever to pull off this year’s TD North Philadelphia International Cycling Championship due to budget constraints, but many pitched in. I am proud to say that we contributed our greatest asset, delicious beer, to become the official beer of the race.
I also got to thank Mayor Nutter, first-hand, for working to make this year’s race a reality.
Knowing that there was chilled Prima Pils and HopDevil awaiting at the race, I had no problems leaving Chester County very early on Sunday morning. I had two other motivators. One was that I was going to meet and play host to Jim McMenamin, the beer fan who won our Twitter contest to enjoy Winner’s Circle access with me. I enjoy turning people on to the sport of cycling, and Jim proved to be pretty well immersed in the sport already. Motivator # 2 was that I had a delivery to make to a very deserving friend, Mike Tamayo, Directeur Sportif of Team OUCH presented by Maxxis. Mike had guided our Victory Brewing pro women’s team from 2002 through 2006 and gained a minor addiction to our root beer during that time. At Friday night’s team meet & greet at Bicycle Therapy, Mike pointed to our donated cases of beer and lamented, “A real buddy would have brought me some root beer.” So, I arrived at the team pit area on Sunday early to greet Mike and quench his thirst with 2 liters of freshly tapped root beer. Mike quipped, “I’ve got nearly seven hours in this car today so this is going too!”
In those precious, quiet pre-race moments, we were joined by Mike’s in-laws, the Franges, as we awaited Lauren (Franges) Tamayo’s arrival with her Team TIBCO mates.
Kirsten Robbins, former Victory team-member and now a journalist with Cyclingnews, rolled through, and we talked about her impending wedding plans. I was starting to feel old. But then add’l. former Team Victory gals, Laura Bowles and Emma Rickards (Team TIBCO), strolled in to keep the mood up. Time had come to let them all go to work so I headed off to find Jim, having not caught up with Rachel Heal (Colavita Sutter Home), Gina Grain (Webcor Builders), Chrissy Ruiter (ValueAct Capital) and Katherine Carroll (Team TIBCO), all former Victory gals.
Our third wheel was Dave, who, witnessing the women’s field start after the men’s field began to race, quizzed me as to ‘what if’ the women catch the men. “Don’t worry. It has never happened.” I commented. Ha, those words were not so tasty when I ate them on the third lap as the women moved in on the men’s field, and race organizers neutralized the men’s race so that the women could race safely through them. Unprecedented in 25 years of this race in Philly!
With some refreshing Prima Pils, the three of us hoofed it out to other vantage points including Lemon Hill to witness the fun and frolic that Philly brings out for this great race. (Check out this cool video Jim shot on Lemon Hill!)
Heading home later that day I thought about my first Philly race experience, as a volunteer in the team pits in 1985 or ’86. I thought about the rider I was assigned to feed, a farmer from the Imperial Valley of California, and the challenge he faced as a solo racer. We don’t see solo racers in this one anymore. I’m still glad I tossed him that water bottle as he rolled through on the other side of the pack, motioning frantically that his throat was parched. That toss was not a legal move, but when desert farmer encounters Philly’s wicked humidity, you do what you gotta do.