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.
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.