Two weeks ago, in Richmond, Ilya, Kasia, and a hundred others in fancy clothes raced their Bromptons on the Road Worlds course, and spent the next two days watching the pros do the same. Read Kasia's race report.
When packing for the Brompton World Championship (BWC) in Richmond, I intentionally left my Garmin at home on my dresser. Sure, I had signed up for the Brompton race, but who was I kidding? The forecast said rain, I was going to be on a bus for eight hours, and my Instagram feed had been filled all week with photos of the cobbled climb. I planned to take it easy.
As we suited up for the race - fancy wear required, no visible Lycra! - Ilya pulled out my Garmin and affixed it to my bike, despite my protests. And so I found myself looking at it as we rode from our Airbnb to the start of the race. I was surprised to see it reading 16, 17 mph without too much effort. I'd always thought I was slow on my Brompton!
At the last minute, i.e. when I got on the bike and realized I'd gotten my seat height right (unfolding your own bike was part of the race), I decided to go for it! I rode as fast as I could, knowing that eventually I would hit Libby Hill, the steep cobbled climb. It was no joke. But I rode it!
Then came the 23rd Street climb - even steeper. No one had warned me about this one. My hands cramped, my feet, in Fluevogs, cramped, and I had to walk the hill. Then I got back on the bike.
Ilya and I play cat-and-mouse in the second half of the race, I beat him by a minute or two! I came in sixth in the women's field, 10.2 miles in 44 minutes. By comparison, my 6.5 mile commute in Brooklyn takes me 50-55 minutes by Brompton.
It was so much fun to race on a closed course in light rain, in falling light. Thank you to all the folks who cheered along the way, especially the kids! I rang my bell and hollered back at them till I was hoarse. I probably would've gone faster if I'd saved my breath but it was worth it to make noise and be a part of the energy.
The next day Ilya and I watched the pro women's race from a spot on the 23rd Street climb. It was heart-stopping to see them power up -- attack, even -- on the same hill that I had to walk. On the final lap a Spanish racer flatted just at the base of the climb, and the officials were very slow and reluctant to help her, presumably because she was so far behind the field. The crowd started up a chant, "Give her a wheel, give her a wheel," and finally they did, and we went wild for her as she took off again. I can't begin to imagine what was happening in her head. We checked the results later. There were a lot of DNFs but she wasn't one of them. She finished last but she finished! I am so proud of her.
On Sunday we rode around Richmond, catching the men's pro race from different points in the course. The men's race was longer (16 laps to the women's 8). We had the luxury of taking our time. If we found a good spot, we stayed there for a few laps. Ilya photographed, I lent my voice. It was a great way to experience the city.
Everywhere we went, people were curious about the Bromptons. We showed off the fold, and I let a few people ride mine!
Sunday night going into Monday, the barriers came down, the streets were re-opened to car traffic, and nostalgia for the races set in hard. So much ferocity, so much humanity. You don't get this on television.
Kasia and Ilya before the race
Before the race
Peter (NYCeWheels) and Ilya
Photo: Ilya Nikhamin
Photo: Ilya Nikhamin