A Low Key Collegiate Atmosphere: Philly Phlyer Race Recap

In contrast to the endless discussions of race tactics leading up to last weekend’s Grant’s Tomb Crit, three members of TBD descended upon the Philly Phlyer in Philadelphia, PA with an attitude of “let’s just see how this goes.” Perhaps it was the out-of-town nature of the race (though with an oddly large NYC contingent: I see you DJC, NYCC, Veselka and King Kog), or maybe it was the fact that this race exists as part of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference’s race series, but there was a decidedly low-key feeling about much of the race day. (One caveat: my own personal low-key mood could possibly be attributed to me showing up 10 minutes late for the TT I was supposed to ride and subsequently treating myself to a 3-hour car nap.)

As the race rolled off, two things became immediately clear: 1) it was windy af, and 2) probably because of number 1, very few teams wanted to take much responsibility for the proceedings. This was never more apparent than when the field let me set the tempo much of the way on the first of 5 trips up the course’s main “climb.” And so much of the race went. Decent tempo up the climb, dodging potholes, and wondering why people kept blowing snot on my wheels. In a nice stretch of mid-race excitement, Steve took off into the wind with 2 laps to go along with some poor, tortured soul. I worked my way to the front and set a comfortable tempo on the front of the group to give them some breathing room, but Steve’s companion seemed forgotten to eat his Wheaties that morning, and the two found themselves back in the pack as we tackled our penultimate ascent of the climb.

Tom Hendry hard at work in a strung out Men's 1/2/3 field later in the day at the Philly Phlyer

More excitement came on the last lap of the race when the winning move took off in a bid for glory. Erwin was well-positioned and took off in a counter-attack with a couple of companions to try to make the junction. When he decided his group was not up to the task, Erwin decided to ease back into the pack rather than risk furthering an injury sustained last week. The pack was within sight of the break in the final moments of the last lap, but a lack of commitment on the part of many of the unrepresented teams meant podiums and glory for them and left the rest of the diminished field to fight for scraps. Through the finishing turns, Erwin placed himself in a solid position to sprint to 6th overall (3rd in the field sprint). Steve and I were slightly further back behind a rider who unclipped from a pedal through the closing chicane and went on to finish 28th and 20th, respectively.

All told, it was great to see our race strategy of sorts develop organically, a sign of good race-intuition. And, if this was a Yelp review: the Philly Phlyer is definitely a regional race worth checking out, provided you don’t mind the occasional pothole, perpetual headwind, and low-key collegiate atmosphere.

It wouldn't be a bike race without some cute dogs as spectators.