Monday, June 9, 2008

98 Degrees in the Shade

The sudden and severe heat wave that's currently smothering the Mid-Atlantic area arrived just in time for yesterday's Philadelphia International Cycling Championship. In the twenty-four year history of the race, it's never once rained. Yesterday, though, had to have been one of the hottest race days on record, making for a serious race of attrition. Matti Breschel, Danish rider for Team CSC, toughed it out to take the field sprint in the 156-mile men's race. The crowds around the course seemed a bit thinner than in years past but those fans that braved the heat had a blast as always. The race may have lost its status as the US Pro Championship a couple of years back but it's still one of the things that makes Philly a special place for me.

Does six-and-a-half hours of racing in 98 degree, high humidity weather sound like your idea of fun? The late race effort shows on the faces of riders as they grind up the penultimate ascent of Lemon Hill.

You don't see them around town very often but the Philadelphia Police force's motorcycle drill team makes an appearance at the race every year, leading the race caravan on their Harley-Davidson police cruisers.

A shady hiding place was a must. And of course, a spot near the kegs couldn't hurt.

Year in and year out, from the local criterium circuit to the Tour de France, the Mavic neutral support drivers are out there taking care of the racers' emergency mechanical needs.

The second year of A Burger and a Beer. This year, it was Brian of Keswick Cycles sweating it out at the grill on Lemon Hill.

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