Sunday, July 13, 2014 was the big day: The Brompton US Championship race! Once again, the Bromptons gathered, this time with their riders in more formal — for some definition of “formal” — attire. A suit jacket, collared shirt, and tie are required apparel at the Brompton Championship races — for both men and women.
Later, the race organizers took pity on everyone and allowed all to race sans the jacket — a much-appreciated mercy. Summer weather in Washington, DC is not for the faint of heart, and the temperatures hit 95 F/35 C on this day (and were probably higher at the actual racing venue).
Any choice of footwear is permitted, and, fortunately, so are shorts and skirts.
Spandex is banned; helmets are required. Of the latter, quite a few were of the more decorative sort, often coordinating nicely with their associated Bromptons.
Most participants, and quite a few spectators, first met at BicycleSPACE, from which departed three rides: A multi-modal, which involved cycling to the Metro, hopping on, and then, at the other end, cycling to the race; a full-on cycling tour to the stadium, which was not necessarily recommended for those competing later; and a more leisurely social ride, for spectators. All, of course, terminated at RFK Stadium, where the day’s festivities were staged.
We rode to the Metro Center stop where those of us without MTA passes paid our fare, and all boarded. MTA cars have a lovely large space at the end where bikes — in this case, lots of bikes — fit nicely.
That’s Steve, of Brommie Yummie (“Eat, bike, fold”) snapping photos on the train. (Can I just mention here that one of the real joys of the weekend was meeting so many interesting, enthusiastic, people? And meeting people like Steve and Fernando, who I had previously “known” only on the Internet? What a thrill, all around!)
We got off at Stadium-Armory, hopped on our Bromptons, and were shortly at the starting line.
Shade was at a premium, and a few jackets were doffed as things were setting up.
We noted that Peter, of NYCeWheels, had arrived. Like a lot of others, he didn’t race with his jacket on, but that was one natty jacket, with an under collar that coordinated beautifully with his bicycle and helmet. (Though, sadly, you can’t really see that here.)
Fernando looked really dashing in his outfit — and, as befit an Arizonian, he wore an attractive bolo tie.
Captain America was looking good, too.
If you ask me, though, it was Micki who stole the sartorial show with the perfect blend of flamboyance, eccentricity and style! And look at that chapeau — that’s some flair!
If you’re not familiar with the Brompton Championship, you’re probably just now getting the idea that this is no ordinary bicycle race. A certain amount of quirkiness is expected — one might even go so far as to suggest it’s required — at these events.
The race itself — though the stakes are high — is not merely for the swift, but also for the slow, the tourist, the ambler and/or anyone else who wants to ride — providing you’re on a Brompton, of course.
The stakes are high because the winners, one male, one female, are awarded a trip to the UK to compete at the BWC — the Brompton World Championship. Runners up also receive nifty prizes, but, for the majority of us, participating is reward enough!
It’s a Le Mans start, with all the Bromptons folded and lined up. We race to our own, unfold, and tear off.
There were plenty of spectators to cheer us on.
It is here, however, dear readers, where I fail you. We raced, Basil and I, Argyll and Dr. Diarist. We did not take photographs as we tore around the asphalt of RFK Stadium and the cobblestones of the Congressional Cemetery. However, if you’d like to know what the course was like to ride, Fernando recorded his laps with a head cam, and it makes for some exciting viewing.
We did three laps around the course, enduring a lot of full sun in the shimmering DC heat, and an exciting uphill stretch on cobblestones. (Weirdly, I actually liked that — though I admit it involved some serious pedal work.) The course was just over 7 miles/11.2 km — long enough to challenge, but not to kill.
The winners were known, but not announced, immediately, of course, since there were other activities to conclude. The folding contest was hard fought, with contestants keen to finish milliseconds ahead of the competition.
There was the coveted “Best-Dressed” test, which featured the dapper Melissa, Peter (of NYCeWheels) and Caleb, who were pre-selected by the organizers and who represented a more conservative approach — although perhaps that’s not a strictly accurate description of Peter’s excellent suspenders! Caleb took the honor, by acclaim.
Much attention was paid to shoes; I didn’t get a good shot of Peter’s very sleek racing footwear, but Melissa and Caleb were elegantly shod, and their headgear was pretty spiffy, too.
We collapsed, recovered, and visited with fellow Bromptoneers, and then it was time for the official announcement of the wiinners of the 2014 Brompton US Championship! Anna Zhao, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, took women’s first.
That’s Anna in the middle, holding up the handsome green Brooks saddle she won, along with a trip to the UK to compete (in only two weeks!) at the Brompton World Championship. To the right is second place finisher Heather Jackson, and left is Emily Garhartt, who finished third.
First place men’s winner was Travis Werts, of Nashville, Tennessee, in the center, with Greg Biche, second place winner on the left, and NYCeWheels’s own Peter Yuskauskas, in third place, on the right.
Brilliant performances, all around!
There was more: a chance to buy tee shirts and biking caps to commemorate the experience, and also to check out Cleverhood — USA-made cycling capes with a classic, almost European flair. Owner Susan attended in proper Brompton attire, including glen plaid trousers, which complemented her capes. (Sadly, Susan’s trousers weren’t reflective, like her marvelous cycling capes, but maybe there’s a product idea there?)
The organizers did a great job of keeping us hydrated, and we were greeted with cold beverages and a tasty lunch after we rolled past the finish line.
Afterwards, we cycled to the Metro and boarded with a friendly group of fellow Brompton riders, chatting happily all the way back to our stop. Then it was one last Brompton ride to our hotel, where Basil and Argyll posed, next to a small garden, eager and alert for the next adventure.
It was an amazing weekend, full of good cheer, wonderful people, and fun and zany Brompton activities; in short, it was a delight from start to finish. BicycleSPACE, and all those, sung and unsung, who worked together to make the weekend flow, did a spectacular job. We can’t wait until next year!
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