THE BITTERSWEET, PART TWO: Riding a practice lap with the pros...
A journalist sneaks onto the road race course, during practice on September 24th, riding along with the pros, and gives us a cyclist's eye view of things. In PART ONE, we left him stopped halfway up 23rd St, still on the course, watching the pro riders coming up the hill. 
A kind spectator agrees to take my bike as I lift it up over the barrier.
I climb over the barrier and get my bike.
Now the long walk of shame, as I push my bike up the sidewalk. 
At the top of 23rd St I watch some of the action. A wheelie from a USA rider! He certainly doesn't look tired. 
I decide to continue on. I re-enter the course and ride up 23rd St to Broad St, and enjoy the long downhill ride, before turning onto 18th St.
From 18th St the course turns right, back onto Main St, heading downtown. 
Before long I make the right onto Governor St, the last big hill climb of the circuit. 
Another friendy Security Marshal asks me to leave the course. I tell him I'm "Press". He doesn't care, saying that if I'm not on a team, I must get off the course.  
He drives ahead, and then stops, putting on his flashers. I guess he's waiting to see if I'm going to leave. I'm kind of relieved, I'm not sure I was going to make it up this hill anyway! 
For the second time today, I lift my bike over the barrier, as a curious stranger looks on.  
Again, I climb over the barrier to get off the course, and retrieve my bike. 
I push my bike up the sidewalk on Governor St.
The pro cyclists show me how it's done. 
After reaching the top of Governor St, I break out my camera and take a few shots. 
Hey, more wheelies! Who is this guy? He looks like he's Swiss, but he rides like Peter Sagan. 
Now that's a long wheelie. Could he be Peter Sagan in disguise? 
I consider getting back on the course and riding the last stretch down Broad St to the finish line at 5th St. I quickly reject that idea, and instead ride down Marshall St - parallel to Broad - down to 5th St, where the Greater Richmond Convention Center is my personal finish line.  
So ends my lackluster attempt at riding one 10 mile lap of the road race course. 
I must say, I was disappointed, but I don't regret doing it for a minute. The experience was amazing. I plan to work on my conditioning a little more, and then after a good night's sleep, I'll be back to try it again!  Of course, it won't be the same, but I'll always cherish the memory of this day.  
Back to Top