You could just feel the words on that page.
Apologizing. Explaining. Consulting. Must’ve been excruciating.
You could tell that Redlands Bicycle Classic Executive Director Marc Shaw, who’s now become quite a veteran of the 37-year-old event, didn’t want to give in … like all the rest.
The Masters. Postponed.
NBA and NHL. Out for a bit.
Baseball and schools ⎯ suspended, at least for a while.
Highland had the leadoff race. Canceled.
But Shaw & Co. had to let it go this one time. No bicycle racing. There are lots of moving parts to this train. It was a five-paragraph communiqué that must’ve been pure torture.
Shed a tear for this event. You’ve got to. No other endeavor in these local borders comes close to the all-out volunteer effort to create something so special that it goes beyond just a sport’s spectacle.
Sure, there’s youth baseball and soccer, plenty of softball and high school sports, capped by a brilliant set of skill organizers surrounding NCAA Division II events at Cal State San Bernardino. Those events, special as they are, take place in lots of communities from coast to coast.
Not every city gets itself a professional bicycle race.
Lost, perhaps, in the midst of those pro men and women battling for a yellow jersey are a bunch of other sideline events.
Those little 6-year-olds could care less about a Tour de France veteran that shows up here. They just want to pedal in downtown Redlands.
There was a Plane Wrap Ride and another setup called Gravel Ride ⎯ higher mileage events designed to put entry money into good causes.
And those people that toured the parking structure for the extravagant Expo? Grab a taco, or a slice of some dessert. A drink of some kind. If they happened to catch a portion of a criterium, so much the better. It’s a block party.
Those folks spent last weekend stripping stores of their water and toilet paper.
Shaw’s late-Friday-the-13th release, you could tell, was a heartbreaking one.
You could tell he didn’t want to say all that. There’s so much more he could’ve said. For instance: What will Shaw miss most about a 2020 run?
“Two things,” says Shaw.
One: Working with people who’ve put their “heart in soul into making this such an incredible event …”
I know, I know. The phrase is supposed to be “heart and soul.” Think about it. Shaw came up with a new way of putting it into gear. Those people’s hearts were truly in their soul. Okay?
For a few days, it seemed the Redlands Classic ⎯ one with that Highland twist ⎯ would be okay this year.
It was at this exact point in 2019 ⎯ when the event went up against Redlands’ schools’ spring break ⎯ that might turn out all right for 2020.
There was constant rain throughout last weekend. Redlands’ schedulers had moved the race back, though, to April 22-26. It seemed like plenty of time to overcome COVID-19 obstacles to kick it off.
Too much to worry about, though.
Do those host families really want people in their homes now with the COVID-19 out there?
Would the U.S. cycling officials still be willing to travel in for the race?
Sponsors had to be wondering if they were getting their money’s worth.
Last year, pro and amateur cycling teams showed up at 40 different schools for presentations. This year, apparently, no visits took place.
So many moving parts.
There’s one other thing Shaw will miss in 2020.
“Seeing the smiling young faces beaming with pride as they cross the finish line during our youth races on Saturday morning.”
Someone was watching those fantastic finishes.
“Our plan,” said Shaw, “is to return in 2021.”
(Want to chat about sports? Got a sports tip? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)