Taylor Phinney (BMC) checked out the Elite men's individual time trial course for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond on Wednesday. The American was in town as an attendee at a USA Cycling camp being held to give riders a chance to preview several of next year's race courses.
Phinney was the only Elite man to ride the course on Wednesday morning in the chilly rain. The BMC rider was accompanied by several police cars and more than a half dozen police motorcycles who gave him a rolling enclosure and completely stopped traffic at the many intersections en route.
"It's a nice course. I had a lot of fun even if it was 50 degrees and raining," Phinney told Cyclingnews. "I started off a little cold but having the police escort was nice."
The 33-mile point-to-point course starts north of town at the King's Dominion amusement park and goes through rural countryside, then heads toward Richmond, finishing in the urban downtown.
"I've always loved point-to-point courses. I think they're more fun. Not that the whole goal of us being bike riders is to have fun, but it helps, especially in the time trial. It changes the scenery and enhances your experience," he said.
"It's cool to start outside of town and see some country and farm roads. The roads are in great shape, which is nice when you're sitting on a time trial bike for an hour. You also get a good sense for some of the local culture and history, which is important at an event like this. I'm from Boulder, Colorado and we don't have as rich of a history and culture as here in Virginia."
The course switches between both major and minor roads. Many of them are tree-lined, and the terrain is generally rolling.
"Having the rollers and the turns breaks things up. You never have too long straights where you start hating life. It being all up and down breaks things up - you can go a little over and a little under and you don't have to do the steady state thing for 20-30 minutes." said Phinney.
"With that build-up into town, it goes by quickly. Just riding it today, it felt like it went by fast, and you're able to keep speed and hit the little rollers hard. It'll be a fast average speed for the guy that wins."
Riding in the rain
Despite the less than optimal weather, Phinney called his pre-ride the most fun he has had on a bike since his accident in May when he broke his tibia and fibula in a crash during a race.
"This week, they were talking about driving the course instead of riding it, but we pros race and train in the rain all the time so for me, I wasn't going to come all the way out here and not ride it," he explained. "Even if you're not completely paying attention to the course the whole time, it's a muscle memory thing and your body remembers it a bit for the next time you ride it. It's so hard to judge things from the car. Things perceptively are totally different."
Phinney said he loves riding in the rain when he's by himself and can go fast, but does not have to do a super long ride.
"You get out there and get warm and wet, but once you're went and warm, you're fine the rest of the time as long as there aren't any super long downhills. It's just that initial step of stepping out and getting it over with."
Phinney and several other Americans will preview the 2015 world championship road course later on Thursday.
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