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Reflections, Wooden Clogs, Richmond Pride

Sunday, the final day of the UCI World Championships in Richmond, I sat frantically doing homework in my living room. The sound of helicopters and cheers could be heard in resounding laps around my apartment in the Fan and with each coming cowbell, I felt a twang of missing out. It happened. I had become a race fanatic. One that pushed aside responsibilities to feel that roller coaster-esk high upon seeing cyclists pass dangerously close to temporary street railings.

Covering Richmond 2015 allowed me to explore the culture and essence of international, professional cycling as it became intertwined with the city that I love. It was exciting to follow something that was constantly developing and evolving. I researched and pursued aspects of cycling and the city of Richmond that I hadn’t explored previously, while also witnessing the events first-hand and contributing to the plethora of coverage on the events.

How did I end up complimenting a dutch man on the quality of his wooden clogs? As I was tasked with interviewing international spectators on their involvement with the race, I was pushed to interact with people that I would’ve never talked to. It turns out, many people are overjoyed to share their story and talk about their passions. This was something I was nervous about, but immediately put at ease when I spoke with spectators alongside me! The bike race truly brought the world with it, as I encountered people from countries like Eritrea, Holland, Norway, France, Slovakia, Rwanda, Canada, Thailand, Colombia…(I could go on). Being in the presence of people from so many other cultures and backgrounds gave me an idea of truly how unique every society in our world is, yet there was a beauty in that we could all come together and celebrate something so simple as a bike race!

The impact the UCI World Championships had on the city was amazing. Being able to take pride in my city with a supportive network of others working towards the same goal was something I hadn’t experienced before. Crowdsourced journalism is such a unique form of communication as it takes a group, a team, a city of people to tell the story. Each individual coming from a different background, with different interests and vantage points, was able to create a conglomerate picture of this period in Richmond and cycling history. It was an incredible experience to be a part of!

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The Worlds At VCU

Richmond welcomes the UCI World Championships as riders and fans begin to cycle in.
Richmond welcomes the UCI World Championships as riders and fans begin to cycle in.
The Art Cycle exhibit at the VMFA welcomes cyclists and fans alike to learn and interact with the mechanics of bicycling.
Art Cycle exhibit at the VMFA welcoming cyclists and fans alike. 
A somber Richmond awaits the first slew of cyclists in the Women's Team Time Trial in the UCI World Championships, Richmond 2015.
A somber Richmond awaits the first slew of cyclists in the Women’s Team Time Trial in the UCI World Championships, Richmond 2015.
Streamlined riders race past the J.E.B. Stuart Monument in the Men's Team Time Trials.
Streamlined riders race past the J.E.B. Stuart Monument in the Men’s Team Time Trials.
Team Lampre on Sunday of the Men's Team Time Trial.
Team Lampre on Sunday of the Men’s Team Time Trial.
Swiss Team Baloise on Sunday of the Men's Team Time Trial.
Swiss Team Baloise on Sunday of the Men’s Team Time Trial.
Beautiful race for Thailand cyclist in the Men's Junior Time Trials Tuesday.
Beautiful race for Thailand cyclist in the Men’s Junior Time Trials Tuesday morning.
Mongolian rider in the first wave of the Women's Elite Time Trial on Tuesday.
Mongolian rider in the first wave of the Women’s Elite Time Trial on Tuesday.
Kristin Armstrong of the United States takes fifth in the Elite Women's Time Trial Tuesday.
Kristin Armstrong of the United States takes fifth in the Elite Women’s Time Trial Tuesday.
A very patriotic Broad Street alive with excitement for the Men's U23 Road Circuit.
A very patriotic Broad Street out to support the Men’s U23 Road Circuit.
Richmond Police and Fire gather with fans to catch some of the race in front of the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Richmond Police and Fire gather with fans to catch some of the race in front of the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Couple from Holland enjoying the race.
Couple from Holland enjoying the Men’s U23 Road Circuit.

I had a discussion with these avid cycling fans who claim to attend all major national and international cycling events, estimating that they go to at least 10 races a year. They asserted that they love any rider sporting the orange jersey of team Netherlands and came out to support riders Tim Kerkhof, Sam Oomen, and Twan Brusselman of team NED in the Men’s U23 Road Circuit. With an amateur background in cycling, they got involved with sport through a cycling culture where they live. When asked what other sports they follow, I was given an exclamatory, “Football of course!” (European football that is).

When we closed, they had kind words to say about Richmond, claiming “the people are nice and we don’t mind this weather!” (Definitely referring to the beginning of the week).

Very strong support from the Eritrean community!
Very strong support from the Eritrean community!
The peloton of the Men's U23 rounds Monument to Lombardy.
The peloton in the Men’s U23 Road Circuit rounds Monument to Lombardy.
Amidst the final laps of the Men's U23 Road Circuit as Lee stands above.
Amidst the final laps of the Men’s U23 Road Circuit as Lee stands above.