I am a fan. I wish Richmond was a little bit closer but I made my fourth trip in four days.
The Men’s Individual Time Trial started inside Kings Dominion. I could drive close to Richmond without worrying about parking downtown.
I pulled up and was directed to staff parking (free) because I was wearing yesterday’s Volunteer T-shirt. Neat.
Actually, I wanted to ride down the road about 10 miles and take up a private viewing location. But after leaving the main parking lot I saw the police had already shut down Va. Rte. 30. I found an access road and rode for about 40 minutes. Then settled in for viewing.
I positioned myself at the exit of KD, a sharp right hander, where the riders jump onto Rte. 30. There were about 25 of us there at various times. There was another volunteer (an officially assigned one). There was a truck driver from Pitt-Ohio who stopped for an hour break and got to watch the ITT.
The first rider out of the box was Michael Hepburn, from Australia. The riders went in inverse order or world championship points so he was not expected to do well but put up a winning time that held up for 45 minutes or so. The TV broadcast showed up throwing up as he went to the finish line. He really gave it his all.
Some people relied on me for cycling knowledge. And I was the only one there who had the start order (above). One woman asked if I was one of the professional riders. I laughed and said “No, but that would make a good Facebook post.”
A Christian home-schooled family pulled up in their beat up old school bus. I enjoyed talking with them. When Taylor Phinney came I implored everyone to cheer for Taylor.
Then it was a little anti-climatic watching most of the big names go. After Tony Martin went, I rode a little more, then went home and watched a recording of the race.
Phinney, just 15 months removed from a horrific accident, finished 12th which qualified the USA of one of the top 10 countries for two spots at next year’s summer Olympics (two countries placed two in the top 12). The winner was the 3rd seed, Vasil Kiryienka from Bulgaria.
Last year I saw an opportunity to be a course marshal in Richmond for this year’s world championships by volunteering for the Collegiate National Championships in 2014. I should have but had some time conflicts. The hook was volunteer then and get guaranteed spots in Richmond.
I took my chance. And I sort of forgot until August. I went online looking for events and the Men’s Road Race and Individual Time Trials were already full. But the Women’s Time Trial was open. I signed up.
Having been in town on Sunday for the Men’s Team Time Trial and to pick up my volunteer credentials, I was worried about where I could park and still get to the course. I settled on parking at Dorsey Park which is over near the airport and looked to be connected to the Virginia Capital Trail which I rode yesterday.
Bike selection was an option. Road bike or mountain bike? I didn’t want to take a road bike and have it sit in a big crowd unattended. I settled on the mountain bike.
I had flat pedals on it and decided to change to Shimano SPDs. I was lazy. I hand tightened the left one but the right one didn’t want to cooperate. I “tightened” it a couple of turns and took my pedal wrench with me to finish when I had wheels down.
I found the park and parked the car. I saw a large pond or a small lake with a paved path around it. I followed the path which just circled the lake. When I reached the southernmost point I saw a construction road or maybe it was just a dirt road. A construction worker standing there assured me it would connect to the trial. I took it and was really glad I was on the mountain bike with its wide tires.
I found the trail and headed to Richmond. I looked down and realize I forgot my water bottle. No worries. I stopped at a Valero gas station and checked out the water bottles which I thought would fit in my holder. I bought one. I was wrong. I put the bottle in the holder but it wasn’t snug enough. As I rode it would try to fall out but the base would keep it in – barely. My legs were hitting it on every pedal stroke. This wasn’t working. I ended up holding the bottle in one hand while I rode.
I had entered the trail in what was probably the last mile of its rural section. It was 10 miles to Richmond. Even a suburban trail, this was a nice alternative to riding with traffic. I went through the area at Rocketts Landing which was our start/finish area two years ago for the Cap to Cap ride. This was a really neat area.
I reached the canal area – walked my bike for a block (its the rules) then had to find my way to my location. I had just pulled over to mess with the water bottle and I saw the Dutch National Team go by. I forget I was on a mountain bike with a bottle that was falling off – I gave chase. I thought I would join them. One good press on the pedals and, wham!, the right pedal came off still attached to my show. My chase whimpered away.
Oh yea. I was supposed to use the pedal wrench when I got ready to ride. I tried to thread the pedal into the crank but couldn’t. I decided I could ride one-legged to my assignment. I have ridden one-legged on the trainer many times. What could be so hard? Hills, that’s what.
I tried but I had to discount to get up one of those streets. But at the top I rode up Grace to my assignment. I was early and found a bike shop, Balance Bikes. They took 15 minutes top to tap that out and repair the pedal. I could ride again.
My assignment was on the campus of VCU at Grace and Belvidere Streets. The course went up Belvidere and came back through. Belvidere Street had a median. The course here was barricaded the entire way. I had an opening to allow people to cross the street. There was 90 seconds between starts with a motorcycle leading the way.
I had four hours as crossing guard. But it was fun. Riders were going in each direction so I had to be careful. One man from Belgium came up and spent more time with me than any other. He was as excited as a school girl meeting Taylor Swift when he looked at my phone and saw the Belgian rider, Ann-Sofie Duyck, leaving the start house. He ran over to the other side of the street and cheered at her in Flemish.
He came back. We talked. He saw my Livestrong bracelet and tapped it. “He’s a good boy, you know. What, all the others are good but only he is bad?” He was referencing Lance Armstrong, of course. We talked about cycling and doping. But mostly we cheered.
Kristin Armstrong was second on the course because she had no international points. Her time held up most of the day but she would end up fifth, being beaten by Linda Villumsen, a Danish woman who now rides for New Zealand. Evelyn Stevens, third from last, finish a disappointing sixth.
After everyone went home I had to fight traffic to get back to the trail. But I was glad I was on a bike – even a mountain bike.
A word about the Women’s Time Trial: The men got a 30 miles point-to-point course from Kings Dominion to downtown Richmond. The women and U23s got an urban course of 29.9 km (18.5 miles). Their course was heavy on turns. In fact, it was a 15 km course so the women had to do two loops. To accomplish this the first 11 went at 90 second intervals and then no one else for 30 minutes. So they departed in four waves of 11. It just seemed a strange way to run a race. I’m sure they would have liked departing from Kings Dominion too.
Overcast and gray, I headed down near Williamsburg to ride on the Virginia Capital Trail. As an added bonus, the French family I met last week had told me they would be riding from Richmond to Toano. I figured they would be on this trail.
Two years ago I rode basically rode this route with the Cap to Cap Century ride from Richmond to Williamsburg (almost). So today I parked where our rest stop was – the Chickahominy River park. I checked the weather apps and radar and rolled out without a rain jacket.
On the Cap to Cap ride we were on the road, not the trail. I remember portions of the trail next to the road but I don’t think a lot of today’s section had opened. I really don’t remember much of the trail.
I climbed the bridge over the Chickahominy River then rode the trail. It is super sweet! Beautiful vistas in the forest with many newly built wooden bridges. Not sure where those bridges will be in 10 years but they sure are sweet now.
I rode. I caught a guy named “Wilson” who told me he rides around the country delivering letters. I had gone 15 miles and decided I would ride 20 then turn around.
Wilson and I were riding and chatting when we came upon my French friends, Thomas Houdy and his family. At Mile 19. After a few minutes of introductions I turned around and we all rode back towards Jamestown.
Oh oh. Rain started falling. They stopped to put on the rain gear, especially for the kids. The rain fell harder and we all stopped in Charles City – the only place one could find a restaurant.
They looked for a place to get dry. I saw a couple inside and recognized his Mount Washington T-shirt. I knocked on the window and gestured for him to come outside and take out picture. He did.
Then we said goodbye. They went in where it was dry and warm. I rode ahead in the rain.
Since its inception, the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Gran Fondo has been a staple of my cycling season. The reason is because it supports fighting prostate cancer. Since being introduced by my late friend, Scott Scudamore, I have also become friends with Jeremiah and Erin Bishop, plus Robert Hess of the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project.
There was one problem this year. The world championships of professional cycling were being held in Richmond. This was the first time in 30 years the “Worlds” were here. Today was the only day to see the “trade” teams, Garmin, BMC, etc., in the team time trial. I wanted to do both.
I knew I could not do 100 miles and get to Richmond so I signed up for the “Valley View Challenge.” I know Erin was surprised when she saw my application but I explained that I was going to Richmond and wanted to support their ride. She understood.
We rolled out of town and I was at the front. As the peleton rolled on I was comfortably in the pack but new there was a turn coming up eventually. I pulled over, took some photos, then jumped back in the group and rode up to the turn.
I was on the road by myself then sat up and saw a rider from UVA coming. He joined me and we rolled to the first, and only rest stop. After a while we rolled out with a third. We were clearly in front when we came upon a young Amish couple on their bikes going to church. While Matthew and Luca* rode ahead, I slowed down to talk to the couple.
They were very personable. I introduced myself and they told me they were Keith and Julie Zimmerman and their young son. Somehow I happen to mention the Wenger name and Julie looked at me and said “that’s my maiden name.”
We came to a turn. The Fondo route was to the left. Keith and Julie turned right. I turned right with them. Matthew and Luca were up ahead and looked back and saw me going the other way. They turned around to follow me. One mile later we were at the church and I bid Keith and Julie a good day.
Matt and Luca weren’t sure where they were going and I laughed. “Well, you were going right until you decided to follow me.” I told them we would go exploring.
We went into Dayton and then did some trailblazing, getting back to Harrisonburg. We were first on the day.
It wasn’t the classic Grand Fondo right but it was just right. I spent a little time with Robert and Julie before heading on to Richmond for Worlds. And I thought how lucky I was to choose the short route on this day or I wouldn’t have been able to meet, and well, scare, the Amish.
When I got home, I contacted my 5th cousin, Daniel Wenger, who is the preeminent Wenger historian. I pieced together my information with what he knew and quickly proved she was a descendant of Christian Wenger (b. 1698). In Lancaster Co., Pa., we have two known Wenger lines. The other is Hans Wenger (1705), which is my line. It is presumed they are related, perhaps as close as first cousins, but no historian has been able to document that. DNA shows the lines are connected but we can’t yet say that we’re 5th cousins. Definitely my Amish cousins in name. I’m claiming them!