Tuesday, June 3, 2008
On your Mark...
Reading has a problem retaining city managers. Ever since the first they all to run for the hills before a year passes. This trend makes it unlikely that they will accomplish much of anything useful. However there was one exception. Nope, sorry, don't even know the guy's name from two years ago, don't know any of them, but he did bring something pretty cool to the area.
In cycling there's a Pennsylvania event now called the Commerce Bank Triple Crown. It's a three-day event that attracts international participants. Think Tour de France on a very small scale. The first leg is today, in Allentown. The second, Thursday, in Reading. The third, Saturday, in Philadelphia.
Originally Reading was signed up to host the second leg for three years. This is the third and I really hope out current city manager arranges to extend that commitment because it's so weirdly fascinating I'd hate for it not to be here.
For those of you who don't know anything about the area, Reading is nestled in a valley. Everywhere you go is uphill. The course winds around the downtown streets for seven laps and then for the last three they through in a loop that takes the cyclists up Duryea Drive, also the locale of the Duryea Hillclimb, a car event that is professed to be "the most diverse and challenging hill in the Northeast". Okay, now imagine that on a bike instead of in a car after you've already ridden 50 miles in 85 degree heat. And then 60 miles. And 70 miles.
My spot to watch the race is all of four blocks from home, at the Spring Street subway. Here, they come zooming down a hill at speeds up to 50 mph and then make a sharper than right angle turn. All 200 of the cyclists at once. Believe it or not, these guys do so without crashing! It's damn amazing to see. Picture a cartoon swarm of bees suddenly all changing directions at once. Yeah, it's like that.
What's also cool is watching the chase cars zipping along after them, just as fast, all in a bunch, each painted in the team colors. When a rider breaks down, the guys from the car hop out and have him fixed and back on his way in mere seconds.
I have no idea who any of the riders are. I cheer for them all. I take my radio, my folding chair, and some water and hang out, waiting for them to fly down the hill straight at me since I sit right on the corner where they turn and I love every minute of it. It's one of the few moments that people in Reading come out of their homes to stand around on street corners together and watch something good that's happening in the city.
More Thursday after the race.
Stanley Cup update - It took three overtimes but my Penguins did it. Back to Pittsburgh for game 6 Wednesday night.