As Time Goes Byby Dave Stewart
Last July, I put the bike in the car and headed to Nashville for the 2002 USCF Elite National Road Race Championships with Sweet Deborah. I wasn’t racing. I was on another mission.
Our business in Louisville was hectic and a planned lunch in Nashville evaporated in a frenzy of work details for both Deborah and me. When we finally settled into a turn-of-the-century B&B, it was late afternoon. We barely had time to take a late stroll down a shaded sidewalk on that southern summer evening that would not relinquish its heat and go to supper.
The next morning, I awoke at daylight, pulled the bike out of the trunk and rode across town to the criterium course. It was already in the 80’s even with the early shards of light barely piercing snow fencing and the empty officials’ stand. The quiet course had one other person watching it. He was a bicycle importer from South Carolina attending the Nationals looking for business. We talked bikes for a while than I pushed off to shower, shave and get back into street clothes.
My date was for brunch with the USCF at the host hotel well south of town. Three of us talked over the last cups of morning coffee in a modern dining room with white tablecloths and starched napkins. Outside the hotel, team cars with a forest of bikes on the racks and equipment trucks packed the parking lot. Regular vacationers moved about between groups of people with shaved legs wearing sponsors’ logos.
The deal we struck that July morning was for Louisville, Ky., to host the 2003 Masters National Road Race Championships. The difference in that deal and most others of recent years was that Louisville would have the races for two years. A third year would be a possibility. The logic of learning the lessons the first year and really hitting a fast pace the second was inescapable. The support of the Greater Louisville Sports Commission and the Louisville Bicycle Club, one of the oldest and largest clubs in the country, impressed the USCF. All we had to do was make it happen.
The work of that next year culminated a month ago with the 2003 Papa John’s USCF Masters Nationals Road Race Championships. The week-long event was the fruit of the labor of roughly 200 volunteers and 50 paid staffing. Entities such as Papa John’s Pizza, the LBC, Team Louisville, Team Louisville/UPS, Texas Road House, Rapid Transit, 2WheelSports, the SIW, the Spoken Word, the Greater Louisville Sports Commission, Metro Parks, Metro Works, Metro Police, USA Cycling and a host of “non-attached” volunteers made for a perfectly executed event. The Masters is the most exciting, longest-lasting USCF national event. It caters to the largest group of competitors of the National Championship series. Louisville and all of us who pitched in made it happen.
On that last Saturday evening of the 2003 Masters, I stood again on an empty race course. It was a long ways from the that hot early morning in downtown Nashville at the 2002 Elite Championships to the cool early evening breeze of Cherokee Park in Louisville. This time, I was talking with the National Events Manager of the USCF. He was tremendously pleased with the way the week of racing had gone. He was already excited about the 2004 Masters. Then,he asked me if Louisville would consider hosting the 2004 Elite National RR Championships. He stressed that there’s an added element that goes with that event. The 2004 Elite Championships are also the Olympic Trials. The winners of those races represent the USA in Athens.
We’ve come a long way in one year. The distance traveled has been through the efforts of so many from our racing, cycling, corporate and civic community. Louisville is on the map of competitive cycling. We’re on the map because of each person who took part in this exciting event. The credit and thanks belong to each person who participated. It never would have happened without each and every one of us.
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web posted: 14 July 2003
last updated: 7 August 2003