Monday marked the 7th year in a row that Greenville, SC has hosted the USA Cycling Championships!
It also marked the last year, as the race will move to Chattanooga, TN for at least the next 2 years. I am sure the people of Chattanooga are very excited and hopefully the city will embrace the event like Greenville has.
It does make me a little sad because the race gets the city of Greenville excited about a sport that I have really come to love in the last couple of years. It also brings an awareness to the sport that helps all of us cyclists be respected and safe on the roads.
As I mentioned Friday, George Hincapie has been an awesome advocate for cycling in the area, which results in the huge cycling community that we have in Greenville. The USA Cycling Championships helps breed that interest in the sport and further grow it.
The good news, I had big plans for spectating this year! First, I rode my bike about a mile from my house to Cleveland park, where I was able to see the riders 4 times during the first two loops of downtown.
Coming into the park…
The first loop, I watched from across the street…
Then I crossed to the inside turn and they were so close I could have reached out and touched them as they rode by!
The speed they keep as they go through these sharp curves is unbelievable. It is really so cool to see athletes at the top of their sport performing at this level.
I met up with some friends in the park, then after the first two loops, we rode our bikes about 1/2 a mile into downtown and stopped by the Hincapie store that was set up on the street.
Side bar: I totally scored at the sale, getting a full Hincapie Cycling kit for $64! The shorts themselves normally retail for $99. I also got a teal sleeveless cycling jersey for $35, that would have been $79 at full price.
The actual kit is not exactly like this, but similar:
This is the exact teal jersey:
I don’t have many quality cycling jerseys/shorts so I am super excited about this deal!
After our little shopping trip, we took off for Paris Mountain. The race inlcuded 4 loops of the mountain, which is only about a 5k climb to the top, but has roughly 2000 ft. of climbing in that short distance. Our plan was to get as close to the top as we could before the race came behind us.
It was really cool riding out to and up Paris Mountain because all of the spectators were cheering for us as we climbed too! We ended up making it almost to the top and stopped on a super steep incline after the police came through to warn us the riders were coming. It was only their second time up but the lead pack had split to about 28 riders and they were just grinding up the climb!
I had gotten a great picture of them climbing on my iPhone, but my phone died immediately after so it didn’t save 😦
After they passed, we finished the climb up to the top, where it was a HUGE party! People had been tailgating there all morning and they were partying it up with music blasting and tons of cowbells, noisemakers, etc. It seriously reminded me of something you would see at Tour de France, with people chasing the riders up the climbs and all. It was awesome to experience this side of the race for the first time.
We chatted with friends and hung out until the riders finished the 3rd loop, then we busted it back into downtown so we could see the finish.
It looked like it was going to be a close finish with a group of 4-6 riders chasing down Timmy Duggan through the final loops of downtown, but he held on and won the USA Cycling Championship for the first time!
Tim is a little guy, short and very compact, but he packs a ton of power in that little body. The best part was that he and his teammate Ted King were the only two riders from their team (Liquigas-Cannondale) at this race. Some of the other teams had 6-8 people, which gives them a huge advantage. Tim said in the interview that with only the two of them, that left very little option other than to ride hard and do everything right.
We walked past Timmy and Ted on our way out and they were very friendly to everyone, signing autographs, taking pictures and just chatting with spectators. It was very cool.
Finally, I rode home from downtown, finishing with about 23 miles on the day.
It was a fantastic day and a great way to spectate the event. I hope that we have the opportunity to bring this back to Greenville after the 2 years in Chattanooga is up!