The Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic
The Parx Casino Philadelphia Cycling Classic, aka “Philly”, has a long history as the toughest one day race in the US. It was host to the U.S. National Championship from 1985-2005 and has remained as one of the most prestigious road races in America. Lining up for a race with that much history is daunting. The crowd, the course, and the competition all make for a crazy and electric atmosphere. The main feature of the race is the Manyunk Wall, a half mile section with gradients of up to 17%. Having to climb that wall 10 times was enough to make my legs hurt just thinking about it. The race started out fairly fast and the first two times up the Wall were hard but not impossible. There were countless attacks and counter-attacks as small groups tried to go clear of the main field. With 200 starters it was no small task to stay near the front and at times it looked as if the field stretched out for a mile in front of you. Towards the middle of the 4th lap there was a large split in the field, a group of about 60-70 got away and the group behind let the pace drop considerably. I was unfortunately caught behind the split, but Matt Cooke made it into the lead group and made sure to stay in front of any potential danger. As the final lap approached and the final breakaway was caught Matt gave an enormous effort at the base of the Wall but with such a short climb he was over taken by a strong pack of sprinters. He finished in the top 20 and was glad to be done with such a grueling race. “Philly is such a crazy race and the course is just so draining. I felt pretty good the whole race but today just wasn't my day” said Cooke, “These are great races to take part in and I'm excited for the next week in Canada.” Racing Philly is an experience like no other and I was glad to be able to fly the team colors in front of such an awesome crowd.