Pro bike racers run in N Va

Video from the 2018 Crystal Cup, second race of the series

On the 9th and 10th of June, pro bike racers returned to the streets of Clarendon and Crystal City, for the Clarendon and Crystal cups respectively. With the furious resistance mounted by marginalized communities against corporatization of events like Pride, it can be shocking to see the degree of overt corporatization (and militarization in this case) in pro bike racing.

This pair of races has some kind of sponsorship relationship with the US military and with Boeing, and is known as the Armed Forces Cycling Classic. Different sports vary in the amount of corporatization they allow, with bike racing being rather like NASCAR in the amount of corporate logos permitted on team jerseys and on banners around the track.

The bike race itself was quite spectacular, an there is a surprisingly chesslike element to bike racing in terms of who tries what moves when. The Clarendon Cup is almost always won by a group of riders breaking away somewhere near the halfway point and lapping the field, but the Crystal Cup can be different. Every single breakaway in the 2018 running of the Crystal Cup was reeled in and caught. Many spectators figured riders were still worn out from the Clarendon Cup the day before, and thus lacked the endurance to stay out front in a breakaway for long. Riders in a small group must spend more time in front and in full wind than in a large pack. That can consume as much as twice the energy as sitting on the back of the pack.

One "break" got away late in the race and opened enough of a gap to get the pace motorcycle between them and the field. That is often the sign of a break that "sticks," getting to the finish line. Not this time: the breakway was caught on the very last lap, and a sprint finish ended in a win by rider Corey Williams.

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