By Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Development)
Conservation was the name of the game for Sunday’s Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic. With such a hard two-minute effort required for the finish atop Manyunk Wall, we figured the race would be a game of “who could save the most energy while also staying in contention for the win.” On top of that, there was also the leg-zapping heat to contend with. Referencing a feature that our team cars have, director Thomas Craven instructed us to keep our bodies in “eco mode” for as long as possible before flipping the switch to “sport mode” sometime around the final two laps.
The race proceeded with constant fireworks from every team, and our man Oscar Clark found himself in the most threatening and longest lasting break of the day. Somewhere around lap five or six, this move left the field piece by piece and ended up as a group of around 25 off the front gaining a maximum advantage of 2’15″. According to Oscar, there was constant infighting and attacking amongst such a big group of escapees. That group’s noncooperation definitely worked to the advantage of the field by shedding many members of the break without actually keeping the pace of the lead group too high.
As Champion System, NetApp, and eventually UHC took turns doing what they could to bring the break back, the rest of us Hincapie Devo boys did what we could to stay cool and hydrated. It took all of us swapping off going back to the car for bottles and ice socks to keep our bikes and bodies stocked with what we needed. During this middle lull in the race I also had a little time to look around and smile at the immense amount of support on display from the Manayunk community. There’s nothing I like more as a cyclist than getting to race past thousands of sweaty-faced, beer-laden spectators hanging over the barriers and screaming at the top of their lungs. When the community gets excited about a race, I get excited about a race.
As all but a persistent handful of the original breakaway riders were finally brought back coming into one to go, it was time to quit laughing with the spectators and focus on the job at hand. Sport mode engaged. Joe Lewis and I spent the remainder of the last lap fixated on the pleasantly shaped, if disturbingly salt caked, backsides of local boy Robin Carpenter and Oscar (who had dropped back from the break). Those two rode through cramps and exhaustion to make sure Joe and I were delivered to the base of the wall in good position.
With the final escapees got gobbled up inside the last 5km, Joe and I hit the last three corners with nothing left to do but put our heads down and get up that hill as fast as we could. Contrary to what I had experienced every other lap, I don’t remember hearing or seeing much of anything during this final, sprinting assault of the wall. Too much hurt. I ended up third across the line, with Joe hanging on for tenth place. I was happy to be able to claw my way to a podium appearance, and even happier to see my former teammate and best bud Kiel Reijnen smoke us all to take the win.
Apart from the always incredible Hincapie Devo staff that we get to travel with, the Carpenter family (of our rider Robin Carpenter) is especially responsible for our success this weekend. Living a block from the start/finish, we were provided the luxury of skipping all the pre-race traffic mayhem and laying in the cool shady grass until mere minutes before our start. Not to mention John’s incredible cooking and Julie’s hospitality! I’m not sure they knew exactly what they were getting into when they agreed to house us 8 boys for the weekend, but 50 pounds of dirty laundry and hundreds of farts later, the house was still standing… And I guess that’s all you can really ask for after the boomtrain rolls through.