Cyclists are serious athletes |

Cyclists are serious athletes

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

Photo for The Union by John Hart

Whenever the word athlete is uttered, a vision of running back cutting past a vicious linebacker into the open field or a 6-foot guard punishing the rim with a vicious slam dunk amid a crowd of defenders comes to mind.

Until Thursday.

After running the 1.1 mile loop that comprises one lap of Sunday's Nevada City Classic Thursday morning I can safely say, "Cyclists are true athletes."

The cardiovascular endurance, the muscle needed to push through the pain, the concentration required to run a rough road at high speeds and the courage that accompanies taking 90-degree turns on thin tires amid a roaring pack of competitors is sufficient to paint a picture of the modern athlete.

After climbing from Union Alley, up Commercial Avenue and reaching the top of Main Street via a steep pitch of North Pine Street to York Street, I thought I might require a lung transplant.

On a minor incline on East Broad Street, I thought my two quadricep muscles were actually communicating with each other in an effort to affect a mutiny.

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As I came barreling down (keep in mind this is a relative term) Broad Street, I tried to imagine the gumption it would take to take the curve onto Union Alley amid a seething peloton.

When I returned to The Union newsroom, editor Liz Kellar asked, "How did you handle those turns, man?"

I answered: "Slowly."

Even the nice men and women at Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop, who (perhaps ill-advisedly) lent me a bicycle to take a spin around the historic streets of Nevada City, acknowledged the climb was a bear and the descent was fraught with danger.

While the route isn't necessarily reminiscent of the stages through the Alps that characterize the Tour de France, the 120 feet of elevation gain isn't exactly a walk in the park.

For the Internet-savvy among my loyal readers, please see the attached video and marvel at how slow a human being can travel on a bicycle.

Impressive, isn't it?

Please, keep in mind I was wearing blue jeans, a button-up shirt and a climbing helmet with a camera attached, which is perhaps why I induced more double-takes on my Tour of Nevada City than Kate Upton.

Also, please keep in mind that those participating in Sunday's race will actually be going fast, which is why navigating the narrow streets, steep climbs and tight turns along the challenging route represents a true feat of athleticism.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or 530-477-4239.

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