2015 UCI World Road Championships
UCI Road World Championships, Richmond Virginia 2015. I still cannot get over the fact that the world’s best riders were in my hometown to race for the rainbow jersey. If only I was able to watch the races happen. What was I doing there then? Making sure the races DID happen. I was given an opportunity of a life time to be on a 12 person production team to ensure the races looked perfect, ensure happy fans, and most importantly, happy UCI officials and racers. Because Richmond is my hometown, I ran into many friends who were curious as to why I had all access credentials, a walkie-talkie and a hurried demeanor. The question of what my job was became harder to answer as the days progressed as there weren’t many things I did not do. To name a few tasks my crew did the following: made over 500 50lb sandbags, throw and pick up said 500 sandbags, throw over 20 miles of fence line, hang 75 tv’s in media and VIP tents, hang 20 miles of fence banners, and oversee placement and organization of vendors, tents, teams and porta johns. These tasks kept us busy, were monotonous and tiring but needed to be done. Going over everything we did would be like a reading off a never ending scroll.
On the first day of work, my favorite co-worker Shawn and I are high up on a scissor lift putting paneling on a truss. I’m struggling to reach a particular zip tie so I sand on the railing of the lift when Shawn excitedly exclaims “Kelly! Do you realize what you are doing?!?” I hopped down, scared that I did something wrong, so I look at him with guilty eyes as he says “We are decorating the start/finish truss for the FREAKIN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!! I cannot believe we get to do this”. From that moment, I became excited to do every job, because it was for the World Championships! The next morning at our 7am crew meeting, names were sounded with assignments for the day until it was my turn. “You! Girl! With Shawn decorating the TTT house, good job on the truss” ……. Laughter from the entire crew followed as my boss forgot my name and referred to me as "girl", as I was the only one.
Fast forward to the team time trial day, Shawn and I are the representatives from our crew at the start area incase anything needed to be done. Little did we know we would be running our butts off. Foreign teams with no RV’s needed tents, Tissot timing needed white tape and not black, and zip-ties galore. We cooled off from the morning under the warm up tent behind the stage only to be soon harassed by UCI officials to help them during the time trial. We were to whip riders into order and make sure they did not leave the area after their bikes were approved by the UCI. I have had this job before in the Tour of California and US Pro Challenge so I thought my nerves would be used to it, but they weren’t. I felt so awkward standing under so many giant riders from teams I never imagined coming to the states (AG2R and Movistar) and telling them they were next in line. Nothing was as nerve racking as my interaction with Peter Sagan, telling him he needed to re-check his bike after leaving the area only to have him throw his bike at me saying “you take it then”.
From that day, our crew got into a rhythm, Shawn and I (girl) were sent to start areas to decorate the tents and help the UCI officials while the others, I really have no idea what they did, probably more fence, sandbags and banners. We all kept moving for 14 hours a day, averaging 13.5 miles on our feet. While I barely got to watch the World Championship event, I was able to experience it a completely different way than the spectators. Who else can say they did the worm on freshly lain road decals to smooth it out? Or, push through the crowd in a hurry to cross the course only to stand under the truss to watch the final 500 meters with no one next to me. I would not trade what I experienced for anything else, not even being able to watch the races.