After reading all about Philly week and the Liberty classic, I called the Chewman and talked to him before he left for RAAM, to write not race.
"You were just 5 years old when I was racing my first US PRO!"
I talked to The Chew Man for over an hour today about his first, and THE first US Pro championships. Being relatively new to cycling, it blows my mind that the 1984 Olympic team was all amateur. A doped up Alexi Grewal took the gold medal and the amateurs were all pushed to turn professional the following year apparently. A race was created for PROs only, in Philadelphia, and would crown the United States Professional Champion.
A 23 year old Dan Chew headed out of Pittsburgh and rode the 100 miles to Bedford PA the Thursday before the race. His late father drove the van to pick him up and take him the rest of the way.
This would be the first of 7 times Chew started the race. Being PRO in 1985 was a lot different than now apparently. I asked him how he did it and he said "I was a strong rider and I sent the money in for a PRO card." A PRO without a team? A free agent.
Chew claims that only 70 - 80 starters began the 156 mile road race. He knew that he would have an advantage over a lot of the domestic racers, due to their lack of endurance strength, and lack of long road race experience. A lead group got away containing "Heiden (7-11), Rasowski, Shuler(7-11, who won in 1987), and two foreign guys." (I have never heard of 2nd name, so the spelling is wrong of course)
2/3rds of the way through the race, Phinney and Kiefel (both 7-11) attacked. Chew said that the pack didnt react, so he figured that they were blown. He solo bridged up to the two on Kelly drive and caught them by the Manayunk wall. Chew described this effort as "hellish." When Chew arrived, the two became content to let the lead group get away. More from the field started showing up: Tom Prem (sp?), Chris Carmichael, Andy Hampsten, Jeff Rutter (who is still fast?!?!!), and Dan Chew.
A true breakaway artist, Chew got last in his group. He said they could see the lead riders right off the front. Heiden, one of those superhumans, won it. He is now a Doctor. He also has tons of gold medals in speed skating. I think he can levitate and turn water and into wine too.
Chew got 900 dollars for his effort, which he is probably still living off of today.
In 1986, Chew was in a group that battled for 7th place, but he botched it and ended up 16th. In 1987 he was the first person to ever race a nonsteel frame in US Pro history. It was a Cannondale and looked "freaky" compared to the standard 1" tubes of a steel bike. This bike is still in the Chew basement, standing as one of the only bikes he was unable to break, with over 90,000 miles on it. Yes 90,000.
Bike racing has come a long way.