by Andy Scudder
The pinnacle of international cycling is advancing on Richmond as you read this. Richmond has been selected to host the 2015 UCI World Championships September 19-27. While 2015 may seem like a long time off, we need to prepare now.
“The Worlds” is a nine-day event featuring 12 Cham- pionship races for Elite Men and Women, Under 23 Men and Junior Men and Women. It is a rare oppor- tunity for the athletes to compete for their country, just as they do during the Olympic Games. Athletes compete in three different disciplines including the traditional Road Race, the Individual Time Trial and the recently introduced Team Time Trial. World Champions are crowned in each discipline.
Elite Men’s Road Race
The last day is the 190 mile Elite Men’s road race. This race will likely start in a nearby city such Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, or Williamsburg, and come tearing into Richmond, where there will be a series of laps around a 9 or 10 mile circuit, giving spectators plenty of opportunities to see the racers pass by.
In addition to those of us lucky enough to be here, 100s of millions of people world wide will be watch- ing as well, from the vantage point of motorcycles and helicopters. And even before 2015, sponsors, racers, and planners will no doubt be visiting to scout the race course and establish relationships for marketing and entertaining. In other words, Richmond is about to be seen by the world.
The organizers want to make sure that what the world sees is amazing. They are looking for routes that showcase the beauty of Central Virginia and will avoid more “aesthetically challenged” areas. Fortunately, the Museum District falls into the former category, which means there is a very good chance that at least one of the races will pass through and around the Museum District. In addition, cultural landmarks within the neighborhood and around the city will play an important role in entertaining spectators between events and in the evenings.
Cycling in the Museum District
The MDA reached out to Tim Miller, one of the initiators of Richmond’s campaign for the event to explore the opportunities that The Worlds might hold for Museum District families, businesses and cultural institutions. Tim noted that they will soon be defining the race routes and visiting the selected neighborhoods to share information and to identify and address concerns and opportunities.
There will obviously be road clo- sures and impacts to our daily lives. There will also be many opportunities to promote our businesses, bed and breakfasts and restaurants to the thousands of visitors and millions of view- ers. Using the resources the Museum District already has in our corps of volunteers, quar- terly newsletter, electronic communications, web site and social networking platforms, we feel well positioned to facilitate the stream of information that will be forthcoming. We will also be sure to identify the best places to “Tailgate” – a theme being promoted by the event’s organizers.
What is a “Peloton?”
In cycling, the “peloton” is a group of individual riders, competing against each other, who work together to accomplish a singular goal of being in a position to win. In our case, the peloton consists of cities and counties, neighborhoods and neighbors and athletes and specta- tors and our goal should be more than just the southern hospitality we are certainly capable of. Together we can find ways to enhance and promote our own experi- ence and make investments in people and places that will have positive returns for years to come. In the coming years, we will, as your Civic Association, coordinate with the Richmond 2015 team, as well as our neighboring civic associations, to put Richmond and the Museum District in a position to win.