KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Cycling fans across Knoxville have been lining the streets or dropping by watch parties to see how the men and women competed in Sunday’s USA Cycling National Championships. One party was close to one of the toughest parts on the course.
A number of cyclists with the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club threw a barbecue right next to the hardest hill, cheering on the pros as they flew by.
“Oh they’re going through pain right now. I mean they’re just suffering in ways, so I just hope to ease the pain, make them smile, make them laugh a little bit. Maybe it’ll make it a little harder on them by laughing, but I hope they have a good time,” said Jimmy Deane.
That spot was picked because it’s the perfect place to watch these athletes at their peak.
“It’s hard, you breathe hard, and your legs burn, and they make it look so easy,” said Tina Rosling.
“The riders slow down for us and we get to see like the pain in their face as they struggle up against gravity, so it’s pretty neat,” added Brian Clayman.
“It’s a good place to watch people crack and to also have a fun time cheering them on and getting them excited for the horror that waits in front of them,” said Jeremy Walker.
Many of the cyclists at the party have gone up the Sherrod Road hill on one of their rides.
“It just never gives up, there’s one false summit and then it punches right again at the top and then there’s another one, and then up to the top. So it’s just steep and unrelenting,” added Walker.
Fans say it was interesting to see the change in the cyclists because the women did 8 laps, the men did 14.
“Road cycling is a tactical event. So guys are trying to get somebody up the road in what they call a break-away, so I mean there’s teamwork going on,” said Deane.
It took the pros 15 to 18 minutes to loop back around to Sherrod Road but every time, there was a big roar and it was just as exhilarating.
“I think all of us at one point or another have been shut in the pain locker, pretty hard, and to be able to cheer someone on and help them through that, you get a big boost of energy out of that,” said Walker.