In April, hundreds of cyclists lined up for the United States' most prestigious cycling event, the Philadelphia International Championship. The annual race brings top-notch talent and loads of crazy fans, who come to drink and cheer on the riders. Here are our favorite scenes from Pennsylvania's greatest bike party.To the crowd's delight, Rally Cycling’s Brad Huff grabbed a particularly exotic adult beverage on his last trip up the Wall and crossed the line no-handed, sipping away. Only in Philly.
Philly’s finest are out in force to keep the bike racers safe. Officers Green, Vasquez, and Casey were stationed at the base of the Manayunk Wall. In Philly, black uniforms denote SWAT members.
The Wall is an iconic and deeply American stretch of pavement. It’s a cross section of East Coast urban living, tilted 20 degrees.
People come in every shape, size, color, creed, and generation to watch the race from Manayunk stoops.
Edwin Ávila, Columbia’s road race national champion, attacks alone on Lemon Hill in the quest for King of the Mountain points. The guy you see on the far left of the frame ended up taking taking top points. Perhaps Mr Ávila mistimed things?
Three budding cinematographers set up the perfect shot at the crest of the Wall, on the corner of Lyceum Avenue and Pechin Street. This little 90-degree right hander is all that separates a stiff climb and sketchy descent.
Philly resident Michael Hobbs with his striking '80s era Lotus Challenger SX. He bought the bike for $20 and rides to work every day. “I come to this race every year. It’s fun, I love the fans, the different types of bikes. I deal with cars—I work in a scrap yard—but I ride every day. North Philly to West Philly. I don’t count miles. I just get there in 30 minutes.”
The breakaway begins to disintegrate as it enters Promontory Rock Tunnel. Bored in 1871, this primitive semi-circle is surrounded by century-old stone arch railway bridges along the Schuylkill River.
Rally Cycling’s Pierrick Naud launched what they call a “soft one." These little accelerations are designed to test the endurance of the breakaway, hopefully shedding a few of the less helpful riders in the process.
The mask of pain shows up fast and stays around for the long haul at the Philly Classic. Nine trips up a climb with grades reaching 20 percent will do that to you.
Eduard Reverte from the Spanish outfit Caja Rural took the win in the men’s race. Travis McCabe (right) finished a heart-crushing, lung-melting second.
“I have lived in Philly 23 years, straight out of Jamaica. When I found out about this race, I was like ‘Wow!’ because I just love riding bikes. It is great that this event is in Philly, because it brings people together.” – Gilbert
The women’s peloton begins the race’s key ascent on Manayunk across century-old cobblestones under the shade of Philly’s many elevated railway bridges.
Beer, tobacco, bike racing. If these three ladies ever lose their home in Philly, Belgium will be happy to accept them.
The runner-up in the men’s race, Travis McCabe, wasn’t finished racing: he delivered another podium-worthy performance by outrunning Philly’s finest during some hands-on support of the women’s race.
Melvin Moore has volunteered at the Philly Classic for 30 years. His enthusiastic, megaphone-aided support role is beloved by all. “I have an opportunity to get out here and help the ones that are struggling. Pump ‘em up. ‘Let’s go, you can do it,'" he says. "For a while it was just a party, but now you can see the professionalism coming back into the race and I want to be a part of it.”
Heather Fischer (Rally Cycling) and Brianna Walle (TIBCO) are two of the United States’ fastest, most versatile sprinters. They battled tooth and nail across the line for fifth place.
Emotions run especially high after such a physically, mentally depleting race. Rally Cycling’s Sara Poidevin, upset at missing out on the Queen of the Mountain jersey, is consoled by her teammate Heather Fischer.
Having never raced the Philly Classic, it’s impossible to know what the circuit feels like on the mind and body. But this photo helps form a clearer picture.
Hannah Ross played injured at the Philly Classic. “I broke my metacarpal at the Redlands Classic. I came back healed and at Winston-Salem I crashed with a couple girls. As I was trying to bridge back, Zane was fixing my brakes while I held onto the car. Somehow when he pushed me forward, I didn't go forward but down. I broke my two distal phalanges. I’m healing up and ready for the next race!”