TIAA-CREF team members Chad Hartley, Taylor Tolleson, and Brad Huff along with mechanic Damian Shanks and sougnier Lara Pate traded places speaking to the children. Hartley and his teammates were compared to team members of the local football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, in that they compete in the Pro Cycling Tour much like the Eagles compete in the NFL. The children definitely got it.
The gymnasium was filled with groups of children sitting on the floor on each side of the screen set up by Cycling.tv for the assembly. Hartley spoke about the Philadelphia International Championships and its long history. Much like football, he explained that cycling teams wear the same outfits. He went on to say that the team is made up of nine individuals but they are all there to help each other.
Team members wasted no time taking cycling to the kids’ level.
A loud “wow” was heard when the large winner’s prize was announced. Hartley spoke about the different types of races such as road and criterium. The latter where you “go around the block really, really quickly” said Hartley.
Lara Pate, wife of second place finisher in last year’s Philly event, Danny Pate, spoke to the bright eyed children about nutrition. Ms. Pate explained that racing all day meant that food was needed. With the assistance of Taylor Tolleson a musette filled with Cliff bars and water was “handed” off. It was done so quickly that this reporter couldn’t snap a photo of the exchange. I was able to catch him filling his jersey pockets with Cliff bars.
Pate asked the students what they thought the racers were given to eat during the races. Politely raising their hands the students answered fruit, veggies, and energy bars. Pate said they were correct and that along with lots of Gatorade the racers eat PBJ sandwiches, cookies, apples, oranges, and their most favorite thing in the world, trail mix. Given the amount of hands up during this portion I think every student and faculty member wanted a musette full of these goodies.
This group of 7 and 8 year old students had lots on their minds and weren’t afraid to ask questions. Hartley was dressed in a full team kit, Tolleson a jersey (and bandages), and Huff in a jersey. Due to the age of the students no names are being used.
Student: How do you start racing?
Chad Hartley: Start racing your family and friends. I started with BMX. I never got hurt, well never broke anything, and it was always fun.
Note: The kids went crazy at those three letters—B M X. USA Cycling please pay attention.
Student: Do you ever get tired?
Chad Hartley: Sometimes we do, a lot of the time.
Student: Do you sleep with teddy bears?
Chad Hartley: I do.
Student: How many winners can there be?
Chad Hartley: Just one. The guy that finishes that crosses the line first.
Student: What if you cross together?
Chad Hartley: The camera on the line can tell the difference. (Chad demonstrates the camera angle on an imaginary line.)
Student: Can you do tricks while in the race?
Chad Hartley: You can but you shouldn’t. It’s not like BMX.
Student: How do you get your bike across the world?
Chad Hartley: Damian Shanks is our mechanic. His job on the team is to take all the bikes across the United States for races. We store our bikes in Europe for those races. The team is made up of 28 riders, each with around five bikes. We have 80 in the United States and 50 in Europe. We have a lot of stuff but the riders don’t need to travel with their bike. But, I’m going to China soon and since we don’t have any bikes there I’ll need to take mine in a big bag on the airplane.
Student: How do you ride and eat at the same time?
Chad Hartley: The races don’t go hard all the time. If it slows down we can eat some Cliff bars and drink some Gatorade. We need food and calories while we race.
Student: When do you go to the bathroom?
Chad Hartley: If there is a breakaway, meaning people are up the road, then a group of us in the back will call a time-out and stop and go to the bathroom. We also have some cool skills to angle off and go while we’re still riding.
(logs of giggles and confusion at this point)
Student: What if you crash into someone in front of you while you are going for the win?
Chad Hartley: Brad (Huff) did that but most people watch where they are going.
Following the presentation Hartley, Tolleson, and Huff sat down to give out team cards and autographs to the eager children. The students also signed a large banner for the TIAA-CREF team that was made by the entire school.
Hartley, Tolleson, and Huff told me it was always fun to come out and visit kids and it gives them a good feeling to do it. The students and staff all seemed to have enjoyed themselves, learned a lot, and from some of the questions asked might have started them on a career in journalism.
More information on TIAA-CREF can be found at www.tiaa-cref.org
Please visit www.procyclingtour.com for information on the Commerce Bank Triple Crown.