Posts tagged "cycling"

I got more exercise than expected while watching the women’s triathlon

For a second while I was watching the Olympic women’s triathlon, I thought I was in a race myself.

As my group of BSU at the Games members stood around Serpentine Lake, surrounded by thousands of people watching the triathletes furiously swim in front of us, some fans around us began to turn around. They started pushing through the massive crowd of people until they reached a clearing, and then it was a full-on sprint to the other side of Hyde Park.

Jonathan Batuello, one of our group members, was among those hurrying away from the lake even though the swimming portion wasn’t over. I hurried after him, but he ran so fast from the crowd I lost track of him.

At that point, it didn’t take long to figure out what everyone was running toward.

As the triathletes pulled themselves out of the water and onto their bikes, fans were racing over to the cycling track to get the best possible view of the next portion of the race.

It was funny to see how the rows of people next to the street worked itself out. Those who ran fast enough and knew they had to leave the swimming portion early earned the ultimate prize of getting great photos. Those of us who didn’t had to deal with photos that had heads and cameras in the way of the shot.

Our group learned from the first run through the park and made it over to the running track after the cycling was halfway finished. No running was necessary this time, and after a half hour of waiting, we were able to get a decent view of the triathletes sprinting by us.

For the first Olympic sport I’ve ever seen in-person, the women’s triathlon is memorable just for getting me out of a seat. That’s not something I’m used to as a football and basketball fan.

Still, the next time I sit down to comfortably watch a sport with a hot dog in one hand and a drink in the other, I know I won’t take it for granted.

Andrew Mishler  |  Sports Reporter

@andrewmishler

Relatives of gold-medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong share their experiences at the sidelines

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

As the last notes of the U.S. national anthem echoed across Hampton Court Palace, 2-year-old Lucas Salvola was finally allowed to join his mother, Kristin Armstrong, on the podium. Smiles spread across both their faces as Armstrong scooped the toddler up into her arms and held the gold medal around her neck.

“I think it brought a tear to all our eyes,” Armstrong’s sister-in-law Marge Wilson said. “Just to see her on the podium and hear the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’”

For the group of 12 sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and significant others, seeing Armstrong win her second time trial (the first was at Beijing in 2008) was the highlight of their trip to the London Olympic Games.

The family finally got a chance to relax Thursday morning as it sat in the lobby of the London Hilton Metropole reflecting on the last few days and making plans for the rest of its trip.

“It was surreal,” Marge said. “[My husband] Brady always knew she’d win. You just want it so bad.”

Between two races, a minor crash and a gold medal, the days leading up to Armstrong’s second gold medal were full of both excitement and anxiety for the Wilson clan, related to Armstrong through her husband, Joe Salvola.

Anxiety at the sidelines

July 28 marked the family’s first day in London, but its true purpose for being there didn’t come until the next day.

Joined by Lucas, the Wilsons stood by the 500-meter mark near Buckingham Palace late Sunday morning awaiting the start of the women’s cycling road race.

The family didn’t have any signs or American flags to hang over the railing lining the course (“We’re lamenting that fact,” said Armstrong’s nephew Matt Wilson), but it did bring the love and family support.

Although the group was there to cheer Armstrong on, her brother-in-law Brady Wilson knew it wasn’t her event. Amidst gasps from his family, he said he doubted she would win the race.

“She’s not much of a sprinter,” he said, defending himself.

The nerves the family felt as the race drew closer weren’t just because it was about to watch Armstrong compete, though. About 30 minutes before the race, the group became anxious as umbrellas popped up along the course to shield the crowd from the rain.

Armstrong had broken her collarbone on a wet track in a race in her hometown of Boise, Idaho, three months earlier, and none of them wanted her slipping again. But two-thirds of the way into the corner, Armstrong was involved in a minor crash at the bottom of Box Hill, falling on the same shoulder she broke in May.

“We all got sick to our stomachs,” Marge said.

It’s crashes like these that make it rough knowing an Olympic athlete at times. According to Marge, Armstrong’s mother can’t even watch her race—live or on TV.

Armstrong recovered after the fall but still didn’t win the road race. She placed 35th with a time of 3:36:16.

‘No luck. No nothing.’

Although Sunday didn’t bring another medal, the family was more confident on Wednesday as it prepared to cheer Armstrong on in what cyclists call the “race of truth.” With just the rider against the clock, it’s the true test of their ability.

“She can just do her tunnel vision,” Armstrong’s niece Audrey Wilson said. “She just goes out there and knows what she has to do.”

After recovering from Sunday’s scare, Armstrong’s family was ready to take its place on the sidelines once again, this time near Hampton Court Palace.

Wednesday morning, as Marge stood by the side of the course accompanied by her husband, daughters and son, she could feel the electric tension in the air. This was Armstrong’s last attempt at a gold medal.

The family positioned itself as close to the finish line as it possibly could without having tickets. Shortly after 1 p.m., everyone watched on a big screen as Armstrong rolled down the ramp, the last of the cyclists to start her time trial.

As Armstrong neared the point where the family was standing, many around it had realized the group was related to the reigning gold medalist defending her position. Murmurs of, “That’s Kristin’s family. That’s her family,” echoed through the crowd.

Although Team Great Britain fans surrounded the family, cheers erupted throughout the area as the 38-year-old cyclist crossed the finish line and claimed her gold medal. Her family couldn’t have been prouder.

“She deserved this,” said Armstrong’s sister-in-law Sue Henderson, one of the few able to stand in the ticketed area with Lucas to see the finish line. “No luck. No nothing. She just worked hard.”

Sharing in the celebration

Despite the pride the family has for Armstrong, it isn’t always easy having an Olympic athlete in the family.

Want to go out on a leisurely bike ride with her? Not possible, said her niece Audrey Wilson.

“You could only stay with her for half the ride,” Audrey’s brother Matt said.

Even Armstrong’s husband, Joe Salvola, who also cycles, can only keep up with her for half the ride, Marge said.

It’s no surprise for the family Armstrong won her second gold, but it also knows how far she’s come since it first met her. At that point, she had just picked up cycling after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her hips and told she could no longer participate as a triathlete.

“We were just so happy when she made her first pro cycling team,” her niece Michelle Wilson said.

Training and preparing mentally for her two races have kept Armstrong busy throughout the past week. Only her husband and parents, who helped with bike preparations, were able to see her prior to Wednesday night’s celebratory dinner, when the rest of the family joined. Even her son Lucas stayed with his aunts, uncles and cousins for a majority of the time.

But the family has been understanding throughout.

“We don’t want to distract her,” Brady said. “We know she’s so focused.”

Now that the Olympic Games are over, Armstrong is heading back to the U.S. to watch the rest of the Games from the comfort of her home. Her family is off to explore the rest of London and the United Kingdom.

Check out our full photo gallery of the Women’s Cycling Road Race.

Lindsey Gelwicks is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Lindsey and the BSU team at @lbgelwicks@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Photo Gallery: Women’s Cycling Road Race

The women’s road race cycling event started and ended against the dramatic backdrop of Buckingham Palace on the Mall Sunday. Despite the rain, hundreds of fans representing different countries turned out to cheer on the 67 riders throughout the140km race.

Photos by Tyler Varnau, Valerie Carnevale and Taylor Bussick.

Cyclist hopes to follow in mom’s footsteps and medal at Games

By Michael Kerkhoff  |  BSU at the Games

Taylor Phinney’s life revolves around cycling. As a member of Team USA, he is following in the footsteps of his parents. Both were Olympic cyclists, with his mom winning a medal.

Phinney, from Boulder, Colo., nearly matched his mom on Saturday in the road race with a fourth-place finish, but his better event—the time trials—starts tomorrow.

“Some would call fourth place the worst (place) to arrive at the Olympics, but I won’t focus on that,” Phinney said after the road race Saturday.

Today, Phinney will take off by himself on the 44 km time trials event. Phinney likes his chances.

“The TT course is a little bit bumpy, as in the roads are bumpy, but that is fine,” he said. “I myself am a fan of cobbles, and they aren’t quite as bumpy as cobbles.”

Phinney was proud of his finish in the road race and thankful for the team helping him get there. At the Beijing Olympics he finished seventh in the track individual pursuit. But with switching disciplines from track to road, he has multiple chances to medal. And with a little help from the injured Fabian Cancellara, defending time trial gold medalist, Phinney’s chances are looking up.

Phinney is hoping to follow fellow American Levi Leipheimer, who took the bronze medal in Beijing. With the crowd cheering, will Phinney power through?

“The crowds were so loud,” Phinney said. “It kind of hit me that this is the Olympics and I’m going for a medal right now.”

Michael Kerkhoff is a senior sport administration major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Michael and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

For family of Olympic cyclist, waiting’s the worst part

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

Nearly an hour before the women’s road race began; crowds start to appear beside the gates lining the track near Buckingham Palace. Up until that point, small clusters of people space themselves out along the edge of the road for one of the few free events of the Olympic Games.

Several groups hang their nations’ flags over the railing, clanging bells and cheering as their favorite cyclists ride past warming up before the 140-kilometer race.

Many are supporting athletes they’ve seen only in the media, but one group of Americans is there for a more personal reason—to support their family member.

Nieces, nephews and brothers- and sisters-in-law of U.S. Olympic cyclist Kristin Armstrong stand near the 500-meter mark of the race awaiting the start.

“I’m more anxious,” Armstrong’s nephew Matt Wilson said about what it’s like being there for a family member.

Matt was joined by his girlfriend, Laura Tedrick, his parents (Armstrong’s in-laws), Brady and Marge Wilson, and his sisters, one of which held Armstrong’s nearly 2-year-old son, Lucas.

This wasn’t the first time the family has supported Armstrong in her cycling endeavors. Brady and Marge were in Beijing in 2008 when Armstrong won gold in the time trials.

According to Brady, she keeps her medal in the gun safe.

“We’re from Idaho; everyone has a gun safe,” Matt added.

Brady is convinced Armstrong will win the time trials again this year on Wednesday. He isn’t as convinced about this race though, he said amid gasps from his family, telling him he couldn’t say things like that.

“She’s not much of a sprinter,” he said, defending himself.

Brady explained the end of the road race comes down to sprinting head-on against the other competitors.

As the 30-minute mark before the race approaches, the previously sunny sky becomes overcast. Rain falls as umbrellas pop up along the track, sheltering spectators.

“I’m hopeful it’ll pass momentarily,” Matt said, who unlike the rest of his family had forgotten to bring a rain jacket or umbrella.

“At least we’re all packed in here. We can’t get too cold,” his father said.

A little rain isn’t a problem; they were more worried about the track being wet. Armstrong broke her collarbone after crashing in an Idaho race in May. Her family doesn’t want her to slip.

“It makes her more cautious,” Marge Wilson said of the uneasy weather.

The race is getting closer as the announcer introduces each of the countries in the day’s event. As the U.S. is called, the family cheers and pounds on the railing to make noise.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Tedrick said. “People come from all over the world to support their countries. I expected Europeans to be here, but there are people all the way from South America.”

Finally, the sky begins to clear up minutes before the race begins.

“Ten! Nine! Eight!” shouts the crowd, counting down to the start. Even little Lucas joins in.

Seconds later, the 66 cyclists fly by.

Armstrong’s family doesn’t have any signs or American flags to hang over the edge, a fact they lament Matt said, but they do have loud cheers of support to provide as Armstrong zooms past with the pack of riders.

“Did you see mommy?” Marge asked, turning to Lucas.

“Yeah!” Lucas shouted as he raised the red lollipop clutched in his hand up in the air.

UPDATE:

Kristin Armstrong finished 35th in the women’s road race. Two-thirds of the way into the race, at the bottom of Box Hill, she was involved in a minor crash. Her final time was 3:36:16. Armstrong competes in the time trials Wednesday.

Lindsey Gelwicks is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Lindsey and the BSU team at @lbgelwicks@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.