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Posted In: Road Biking

Ruminations on a weekend of bike racing

May 5, 2014 3:42pm

On Saturday I put our 11-month old in the bike trailer and headed out along Riverside Drive, over the Lee Bridge to the edge of Oregon Hill to watch the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships. There were a couple of other people watching there where the cyclists came down Belvidere Street and made a hard left onto Byrd. It was a beautiful day; people were out on bikes; the races seemed to go off without an obvious hitch; for a weekend, cycling was the talk of Richmond. Good freaking times.

Here are some random thoughts from watching and reading about the #collnats:

Coryn Rivera defended her criterium title on Saturday. Credit: USA Cycling

Coryn Rivera defended her criterium title on Saturday. Credit: USA Cycling

1) It seemed like every Richmonder who owned a bike rode it at some point over the weekend. I saw tons of people everywhere. I’m sure the gorgeous weather had a lot to do with it, but I wonder, too, if it wasn’t people being inspired by the race.

2) On Friday, while the time trials were going on, a neighbor and I were talking while our kids played at the local playground. He voiced a sentiment I’d been feeling for a couple of days. To paraphrase: What’s the deal with all the pre-apocalyptic news coverage of the possible traffic headaches the races might cause? 1) God forbid, some drivers be inconvenienced for parts of three days. 2) Is it possible the value of a race like this (and especially the world championships coming in September 2015) outweighs the crushing addition of a few minutes to one’s commute, trip to Carytown, etc?

3) It was really cool to see the post-race reactions from race participants:

“Richmond’s been great,” Division II road race champ Brian Dziewa told the Associated Press, noting that in some cities when a race necessitated street closings, residents protested. “That time trial we did was the coolest time trial I’ve ever done.”

From Brad Neagos, a law student at the University of Denver who won the male Division II omnium, told the Times-Dispatch: “Everybody here’s super friendly. The course was a blast. Just to ride an all-urban circuit race, it’s a cool experience. The fans, I mean the course was lined with fans everywhere, that helps a lot. This is by far the most fans I’ve ever seen at a bike race. It’s cool you know, it’s just a really good atmosphere.”

Alan Neenan, who handles travel arrangements for Cycling Ireland and came this weekend to scout it out for the Irish team ahead of the world championships in 2015, told the AP: “This is an event to be proud of here, and it’s a great city for it too.”

Allison Arensman of Brevard College was the Division II individual female omnium winner. She told the T-D: “It was definitely one of the best national championships I’ve ever been to, as far as organization, all that. It was really cool to see all the banners and the start/finish, to have the ramp at the time trial. It was the little things that made it a lot more professional than usual.”

4) Libby Hill is going to be the place to be for the races in September 2015. Griffin Easter, winner of the DI men’s road race, had this to say to USACycling.com. “This energy was incomparable to any other collegiate race I’ve done. Libby Hill was insane. Those cobbles were the coolest thing I’ve ever done. It was pretty surreal.”

5) Big weekend for RVA. Bigger days are coming

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?