I recently participated in the Reading 120 Sportif which is the pre-ride before the real racers get on the course. For us mere mortals, it was only 78 miles of rolling hills in beautiful Berks County, PA. The pro’s had to do 120 miles and climb Mount Penn 5 times. Our ride had two stops, a motorcycle escort, and a finish at the top of Mt Penn with a view overlooking the city of Reading. I was initially going to race my favorite cyclocross race, Nittany Cross, but opted for this road excursion. It was a tough call because I love cyclocross, but I have never been to a pro road race before, let alone a UCI race. I was glad I had the opportunity to experience the course and watch the race at the finish line. It was a better experience than I actually thought it would be.
I didn’t take very many pictures during the ride like I meant to. My initial goal was to just take it easy and really enjoy the ride. Well, there is something wrong with me because I cannot just ride easy with a group of people. We started out fairly fast with a steep climb up some elevation out of Reading. One group formed ahead and I kept telling myself to just hang in with the second group. Take it easy and just enjoy the ride. We eventually caught up with the lead group on a down hill in Oley and again I was trying to reassure myself that I just wanted to peddle easy. Well, somewhere around mile 25 with the lead group pulling out of sight, I couldn’t help myself. I decided to ride hard and catch the lead group. I swear there is something wrong with me; riding easy is just not in me.
We blew by the first designated stop and decided to stop at mile 40 at the second designated stop for water. The lead group was antsy to go so I just let them all go while I waited for the other two fellas that weren’t quite ready to leave yet. We didn’t chase and had a nice ride following about 400 yards behind the lead group. The skies started to open up with rain and I was really enjoying the scenery as we were now cycling in areas that I ride all the time. At this point, I realized I locked my keys in the truck near the race finish. I called the wife and she had the spare set of keys ready for me. I stopped briefly to get the spare keys and now by myself I decided to just hammer it all the way to mount penn. It was actually very fun riding through the neighborhoods in Wyomissing because people were lined up the streets and cheering for me. Seeing all the support out early was quite exhilarating for myself while thinking that this race could be back again next year.
I made it up Mt Penn and my legs were crushed. I couldn’t believe the pros were going to do that 5 times. I headed back down the mountain and set up under a tent to watch the pro race. They had big screens up with commentary so we could watch the whole race unfold. It was a much better experience than I would have thought. I figured we would all be watching riders pass as they made the 5 loops up Mt Penn and back across the finish. I was able to watch the whole race unfold from the start/finish line. It was raining heavily and I was impressed with the turnout and the live coverage. The rain didn’t keep anyone away either. There were hundreds of people out there with umbrellas and ponchos watching the race under some austere conditions.
Danny Summerhill in for the win! He made a great move on the final decent under very wet conditions to break away from the second rider.
I really hope this race comes back next year. It was a fantastic event and I was glad I did it. If it does come around next year, maybe I can convince myself to ride a little easier and not lock my keys in the truck. And, let’s hope there isn’t so much rain either.
I was also salivating over the bikes. I thought for a minute I should just grab one and put it in my truck. I mean they were getting rained on! Those nice bikes shouldn’t be getting rained on like that. 😉
I would love to ride one at least once. I wonder what it’s like to ride an expensive wonder of engineering like that. Can anyone do a Vet a favor?