USA Cycling Championships Deliver in Knoxville

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

What an incredibly great Sunday! The sun came out mid-morning, the humidity stayed below normal and a perfect day was set for cycling. Knoxville came out into the streets and the hillsides and exciting races ensued. By the end of the day USA Cycling officials made it clear they intend to return next year.

The action actually started the day before with the Pedal for the Red and a chance for amateurs to take to the time trial course. The morning started rainy, but the sun slipped out mid-morning. Time trials followed the amateur ride of time trials running from the Old City into Sequoyah Hills. Amber Neben, at age 42, won the women’s time trials and followed up on Sunday by winning the 79 mile women’s road race.

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

I wasn’t able to make the time trials on Saturday and, because of the radio show, missed the women’s race, arriving just in time to see Ms. Neben cross the finish line and to wait for the beginning of the men’s race. It gave me a chance to check out the expo and chat with some of the people gathered. I met someone newly moved from Atlanta who is loving living in downtown Knoxville. Large crowds had gathered including many friends.

I shot the beginning of the men’s race and then, coffee and camera in hand, walked the course, trailing the riders and shooting when they caught me. It made for a range of shots and covered the course. Timing was just about perfect as I made one loop of the 7.9 mile route in just under the time it took the riders to cover it fourteen times for a total of 109 miles.

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

The riders caught me on State Street at Cumberland and, happily, the fine folks at Blount Mansion handed me a bottle of water as I passed there. I shot the riders on the Gay Street Bridge with a backdrop of the city and then moved to a position on Sherrod Road where the course featured a 14% gradient. If that doesn’t sound like much to you, check out Sherrod on foot sometime. It was hard to walk, let alone ride at break-neck speed fourteen times.

I caught them on the descent, which is as harrowing as the hill is intimidating to climb in the first place. The route then led the riders on an up and back loop covering a section of the James White Parkway – I saw them twice along that way – and then over the South Knoxville Bridge where I caught them, again.

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

I discovered the sidewalk I took up into the city from the river led me into Morningside Park with no path to the race route, so I climbed a very steep grassy hill to reach the top where I waited with some policemen. A breakaway had maintained a lead since very early in the race – running out to as much as two minutes. The policeman I spoke to was certain the peloton  could not catch them. I assured him it could and as the riders caught me around the tenth lap, they had, indeed, consumed the riders.

I watched the next two passes at ninety degree turns, which the riders took without incident. In fact, if there were any wrecks I didn’t see them or hear about them. The dry roads and calm winds, no doubt, assisted in that outcome. If we’d had some of the weather we experienced just a few days earlier, we could have experienced a much messier race.

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

Knoxville showed up in a great way all along the race route, even managing a few crazy costumes worthy of the Tour de France. South Knoxville came out in force and most of the route had at least a few people sprinkled about. I think we’ll do better next year. It is a spectacularly fun event and one not to be missed. By the time Larry Warbasse crossed the finish line to take the race, the crowd at the finish line was large and rowdy. I think he felt the love.

Special thanks to my friend, Brett Burdick for shooting me a couple of his excellent photographs (included below):

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017 (Photo Courtesy of Brett Burdick)

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017 (Photo Courtesy of Brett Burdick)

I’m including only a few of my 100 or so photographs here. Hopefully, I will be able to post the full collection to the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page later today. If you’d like to learn more about professional cycling, I’d encourage you to watch the Tour de France starting this Saturday. A rudimentary understanding of the sport goes a long way toward making a race like the one we hosted a lot more fun.

USA Cycling National Championships, Knoxville, June 2017

Shout out to Visit Knoxville for snagging this great event. I can’t wait for next year.

Comments

  1. Hi … it’s Anthony … the guy you met at the race from Atlanta who loves living in downtown Knoxville. It was great meeting you and chatting with you. Great photos and article. All the best my new friend!

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Good meeting you, too!

    • Nancy Voith says:

      Welcome, Anthony. Always glad to have new folks call our vibrant and very interesting city “home.” You’re off to an especially smart start, running into Alan and now reading his blog.

  2. Ruth Burchfield says:

    I was not there but pictures sure brought the event to life. Beautiful vibrant color and you seemed to be at the right place for some fantastic shots that almost looked staged; they are so perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Any pictures of that Shimano motorcycle?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Not unless it was incidental to the other photos. Check the FB page for Inside of Knoxville. I’ll (very soon) have all my photos there and you might see what you’re looking for.

  4. What an amazing day!!!! I love these photos, Alan!

  5. Thanks for covering!! We had an absolute blast and can’t wait for the coming years!

  6. Enjoyed reading your account of the race..felt like I was there! The photos were amazing!

  7. Phillip Jennings says:

    I can’t remember two more fun weekends back-to-back as the last two here in Knoxville. From Saturday’s a week ago combination of festivals and hot but beautiful weather to the cycling championships this weekend not to mention great shows at the Bijou and Tennessee Theatre both weekends, I really felt excited and proud to be living downtown in such a fun city. The vibe walking thru downtown both weekends was just awesome as was the scene along Central in the Old City yesterday. What a great place to live.

  8. Ken Sparks says:

    What a great event to host in Knoxville. It’s exciting to see it happen and how it brings out local supporters and brings in visitors from far away. Thanks for sharing these perfect pics.

  9. What a great event. Your story and photos captured it perfectly.

  10. Don Neary says:

    Great shots and post, Alan! Sounds like you burned almost as many calories as the riders!

  11. Terrye Guthe says:

    This was indeed an amazing event! Thanks for the views all along the course…we weren’t as adventurous as you!!! We’ll go again next year!

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