What's Cool In Road Cycling

Roadside Philly: A Great Race

The 23rd edition of the “Philly Race,” now known as the Philadelphia International Championship and part of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling, was for this reporter the most excitable and enjoyable of all.

I have only missed part of one race due to a broken collar bone which forced me to leave after the first hour or two or racing in 1996. Why is this race so special to Philadelphians, the race participants and me? PEZ was in the thick of it to find out and present to our fans what makes this race tick.

Top 10 Reasons Philly is Such a Great Race

• Emily was lost trying to find T.H.Properties. I hope they find her.

10. Hot girls live in and visit Philly. They are all over the course, smiling, friendly, and provide lots of motivation to the riders to go even harder. During the week of racing most teams train on the local bike path which is always full of fit people or at least people trying to get fit. A nice training ride can sometimes be quite scenic for the racers.

9. The crowds at the Philadelphia International Championship were crazy from the Ben Franklin Parkway (near the Start/Finish area to Lemon Hill. I had planned to get to Manyunk but when I heard Floyd Landis was in the VIP area I hurried to try to get a minute with him. Next year I’ll report from the top of the Manyunk Wall. I might even partake in the “slalom” events that unofficially begin at midnight the Saturday night before the race. Hmm, 1km down a 17% grade in a shopping cart or home made vehicle. Let me think about that for a minute.

8. The Helmets – Look closely and the Commerce Bank logo is actually a sea of helmets.

7. The family friendly zones were the best ever. Commerce Bank wants to really involve the community and provided excellent activities throughout the course. Face painting, contortionists, virtual bikes by Tacx, and really tall people were fascinating not only to me but to my 17-month old son.

6. Great vendors made this exhibit area very enjoyable. Jelly Belly, Cintron, LiveStrong, Timex, Toyota-United, Giant, and THP Properties added to the excitement of the day. Bob Gollwitzer, Director of Marketing for THP and a big sports enthusiast sold THP on getting involved with the race and by all accounts they seem happy with how the day progressed. Bob saved my rear when the THP, buildingabetterworld.com memory stick given to me was used to retrieve the day’s photo’s following a coffee accident with my MACBOOK. Thanks Bob!

5. The Commerce Bank for knowing a great opportunity when they see it and supporting this great race.

4. www.123donate.com Abby Rothwell of the Fairfax Cryobank handed me a water bottle and information on making a “donation.” I think there’s even some compensation but hell, just being told I’m good enough was quite the compliment. They need men, ages 18-35 (I’ll be 38) of all ethnicities to help provide for couples trying to have babies. The bike race brings out this demographic (HELLO potential sponsors and advertisers) and the 123donate.com crew was seeking a few good men.

3. Philly had what I believe to be a savior of the sport in town. Bob Stapleton of T-Mobile is walking the hard line on doping and brings hope for the future of the sport. It’s the commitment of people like Stapleton that will ensure a clean sport for my son. I’m sure there were races all over the world this past Sunday, but Bob came to the most important event, The Philadelphia International Classic. Asked how he felt about the week of racing with Eisel ending up 3rd, Stapleton responded that “we won 5/6 races with Ina taking all three events. The team was brilliant. J.J. spoiled a perfect ending but I’m really proud.”

2. The best athletes in the world were in Philly. American racing is serious. T-Mobile’s Bernhard Eisel said “the American riders are very impressive. The boys were going, it never stopped.“ Pick your fave team – they’re all awesome.

1. The number one reason Philly is great is the fans. I’d like to introduce you to a few.

• Big Al Rodzinski rode this race as a professional for four years. He’s the nicest and most colorful guy you could ever meet and never drop.

• Local Pez fan Chris Wright loves the race and showed his Pez colors, available at glorycycles.com

• Casey Bonner from Alabama is attending the University of Pennsylvania and came down to check out the race.

• Loved the Caico team car – there they are – mixin’ it wth the big boys. We all gotta start somewhere.

• The Rock&Racing guys – more than ‘a little bit rock n roll’.

• The Pinto family found a nice area to picnic and enjoy the race. What is this, France?

• Wojo Unkow, partying on Lemon Hill said “the race is awesome.” After a few years off the bike he’s riding again and really using the race as motivation. I was happy to see him with a Pabst Blue Ribbon since they sponsor my local Human Zoom/Pabst Cycling Team.

At the post race press conference I asked race winner J.J. Haedo if the team was going out to celebrate. “What do you think?” he said with a big smile.

Hope to see everyone in Philly next year.

More information on the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling and the Philadelphia International Championship is available at www.procyclingtour.com

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