Philadelphia’s own Aaron Ritz, a city planner, amateur racer and bike mechanic, won the men’s competition at the Brompton US championships, while Beth Green took the women's event on a borrowed bike. Each was awarded a trip to England for the Brompton world championship in October.
59 competitors took to the streets on their Brompton folding bikes in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park on Saturday, 20 March for the first-ever Brompton US Championship.
Ritz finished the rolling 6.2 miles course in 18:28, aboard a 2-speed Brompton S2L-X. Men’s favourite David Wilcox, of Broadway Bicycles in Jamaica Plain, MA, was hindered by a delay in unfolding his Brompton at the race’s start.
Wilcox chased hard but could only muster third place. Peter Dalkner took second.
Ritz takes the win
“It was a lot of fun,” said Beth Green, the winner of the women's event. “I think it’s a lot of fun getting a whole group of like minded together to do a silly event. When it comes down to it you’re still racing hard and it still hurts, but at the same time it’s nice to have a bunch of people who are part there to race and part there to hang out in the park and have a good time.”
Green is a competitive rowing coach and works at Trophy Bikes in Philadelphia. She rode a single-speed Brompton S1E-X to victory, which was provided by the shop.
Remaining true to Brompton racing in the UK, the Philadelphia event featured a Le Mans running start and a strict dress code: helmets were a must, as was a blazer or suit jacket, collared shirt and tie. Sports attire was not permitted, unless it was hidden by business garb.
Brompton racing has a serious dress code.
“Imagine the Tour de France—staged by Monty Python,” said Michael McGettigan, the country’s second Brompton dealer (there are now more than 30), who helped organize the event.
The Brompton folding bikes make up 20-percent of McGettigan’s sales.
Riders came to the race from across the US, representing 11 states from as far off as California. International competitors came from Japan, Italy and France.
The event was run in conjunction with the Philly Phlyer Collegiate Cycling Weekend, which concluded on Sunday, 21 March.
The 5th Annual Brompton World Championship will be held 3 October 2010 at Blenheim Palace, England.
Owning a monopoly
The Brompton world championship series requires all participants ride the Brompton folding bikes.
“We had a lot of email and calls [from people with other brands' folding bikes] and I had to say, ‘no, it’s the Brompton US championship,’” said McGettigan when asked about backlash from Bike Friday riders. “Everybody was nice about it. We saw Dahons and Bike Fridays there, they’re still folder-folk underneath so they know what it’s like to have somebody go by and go, ‘oh what, did you steal that from a circus bear?’”
For all the fun, the UK race attracts some of cycling’s heaviest hitters. In 2008, Tour de France stage winner Roberto Heras took second to Britain’s own Alistair Kay. Heras returned to win in 2009.
If nothing else, Brompton racing is, “a fantastically eccentric British day out,” says Kay.
And now it’s available in the US.