Sun soaked and happily buzzed, I've just arrived home after a long day at the races...the cycle races, that is. One lovely day in early June, the annual pro cycling tour comes through Philadelphia and races a course through Fairmount Park and around the art museum. It temporarily diverts traffic in town, in a good way, and for several days now you could catch older guys with numbers pinned to their backs taking spinny loops around here and there, warming up for the big day, today.
And each year it proves just as exciting as the last. Originally the Core States (now called this only by old-timers), the race has undergone several sponsorship related name changes, first the Wachovia and now the Commerce Bank Race. Not much of a ring to it, but it's kept the game in play, so to speak. The best vantage points are usually located near steep or circular hills. Lemon Hill and the Manayunk Wall, to be exact. Tons of people, all kinds of people, come out to watch the peloton climb and go so so fast around and around our most beloved urban parkside. It is a reliably good time year after year, even in this 97 degree heat.
I've realized by now that I'm sort of a sports fan in my blood and so I get overly emotional about races and big games and sports themed Hollywood Movies, but even if you aren't a big sap like me, it is really pretty epic to watch a cycling race. Especially a cycling race. As soon as you catch the breakaway peek around the curve, you feel transported to someplace across the ocean where bicycle racing represents a heroism and an historic event where towns of people come out and cheer, together. And you feel yourself cheering as part of that old world spirit, as a champion of comraderie and as a participant in one of the greatest athletic traditions of all time.
I'll be honest. I don't even know who won. Whoever it was won $55,000 and probably feels crazy exhausted right about now. For me, knowing the winner is a far second to my having a memorable afternoon, for which I toted a hibachi up to Lemon Hill on the basket of my cruiser and got called a genius.