Interbike Blog

Cycling as the great American pastime?

From Interbike show director, Andy Tompkins, on his first trip to the big Philly races, now know as the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship.

I had the pleasure of attending the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship this past Sunday, June 7.

It seemed that the entire city embraced this race; I’ve never seen a sporting event touch so many in one community. It was the 25th edition, and an estimated three hundred thousand people lined the streets and outpoured respect and excitement for the field. Andre Greipel and Ina Teutenberg, both of Columbia-Highroad took top honors in their respective divisions, but in my opinion that was only part of the story.

In business we know that which gets attention gets done, and the 2009 event was a model of this persistence. Due to the recent economic upheaval, this years race almost didn’t stage, however local banks and casinos, along with the mayors office made sure this PA classic stayed alive. Mayor Michael Nutter was omnipresent, thanking all who took part for attending this marquis event, understanding that the race is special and important for his city.

And what a legacy to protect – while it was amazing to see the pros in action, ride the course in the Fuji-Servetto team car, and spend time with the great people of ASI (Fuji’s parent company) camped on top of Manayunk Wall (special thanks to Pat Cunnane, of ASI, and his entire crew for their hospitality), my favorite moment came courtesy of a two year old boy. His grandfather held him up to give the youngster his first glimpse of a peloton – I’ve rarely seen such an expression of unadulterated joy. The grandfather explained to me with pride twenty four years before he had taken his daughter to see the race as well, and he shared that she gave him a similar smile.

Pastimes are really shared history – common bonds of lessons and love shared through generations. Sports seem to offer this special link, but in America rarely is cycling mentioned in this context. But maybe if more cities take Philadelphia’s lead cycling may indeed become a great American pastime.

Andy Tompkins

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