Local cyclists tackle pros’ circuit course with ‘Conquer the Cobbles’

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As the top cyclists in the world prepared to compete in the championships this weekend, amateur cyclists got to take a crack at the course, including all the same climbs and cobblestone the pros will ride.

“I’ve practiced it a couple times- mostly the hills,” said recreational cyclist Ken Robertson. “Libbie Hill has not been a problem so far, but going up 23rd Street I had to get off.”

Not everyone planned as far ahead as Robertson.

“I’ve done very little training,” said Ethan Puryear. “I wasn’t exactly preparing for it. It’s just a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to participate.”

For Lisa Helm and other amateur cyclists, it’s like getting to play Augusta the day before the Masters.

“I think it’s a privilege to be able to do this,” said Helm. “There are 1300 bikers out here doing something a lot of people would appreciate doing, and we’re the ones lucky enough to do it.”

With three main hills, the circuit is not for the faint of heart. “23rd street is definitely going to be the worst part,” Puryear said in agreement with Robertson.

But people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities strapped on their helmets to give it a shot.

“Anybody who has a bike that can ride can do it,” said cyclist Gina Welc as she prepared for the event. “I’ve seen little kids here, which I thought was amazing.”

Pushing petals against gravity, wheels spinning onward, it was the views from Libbie Hill that made it all worth it.

“I’m not treating it as a race,” Robertson said. “I’m treating it as a part of life. It’s part of my passion so I’m doing it.”

After conquering the cobbles, the cyclists will watch the elite women and elite men compete for world championships on the same course Saturday and Sunday.


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