Bikers and spectators are gearing up for this year's bike race in Manayunk. Here's your guide to the weekend.
In January of last year, organizers of the then-Philadelphia International Cycling Championship made an unexpected announcement that after 28 years the historic race would be canceled. The community was shocked.
In the end, the race went on.
Reinstated as the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, the race was redesigned, reorganized and revitalized.
"The Parx Philly Cycling Classic is not a replacement event," sponsors and producers of the race said. "This event stands to serve as the next great chapter and the start of a brand new tradition of pro cycling in Philadelphia."
With new events and a more family-focused approach, the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic will celebrate the participating communities of Roxborough, Manayunk and East Falls all weekend long.
On Saturday May 31 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., members of the community as well as guests from abroad are invited to climb the wall that has challenged professional cyclists for 30 years. The Novo Nordisk Walk the Wall event will raise money for local nonprofit organizations and to promote healthy living and well-being. With $10 admission for the Walk the Wall event, live music, refreshments and dance performances in Pretzel Park will coincide with the walk.
"As we continue to grow the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, our goal is to add opportunities like this that embrace the neighborhoods that support us and get more people to be active, even if it is not on a bike," said Richard Adler of Liberty Sports Development, the event producer.
On Saturday May 31 from 11: 30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will be hosting a Women's Cycling Pre-Race Reception at Cadence Cycling and Multisport in Manayunk. Sponsored by the Philly Cycling Classic and Fuji Bikes, the reception will include a panel discussion and a Q & A session with some of the world's premier female pro cyclers. Special guest and cycling enthusiast Lisa Nutter will be in attendance to share her experiences as a female biker. Tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased here or at the door.
As for the race itself, small changes make a big difference. A shorter 12-mile circuit that starts and finishes at the Manayunk Wall brings excitement and focus to the iconic hill.
Last year's addition of an amateur event was only appropriate for a community so richly steeped in cycling tradition.
On Sunday, June 1 at 6:45 a.m., this year's global amateur Velothon, sanctioned by UCI, will be a timed 45K of the race course that will include competitive and non-competitive waves.
The women's pro race will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include 5 laps for a total of 60 miles.
The men's pro race will begin at noon and will include 10 laps for a total of 120 miles. The official course map can be found here.
Touting "equal pay for equal pain," the prize purse for both the winning men and women's teams will be $31,000 with an additional $5,000 for the King and Queen of the Mountain, the highest KOM and QOM for any one day race in the United States.
With close to 50 cycling teams from around the world participating in Sunday's event, an expected 200 men and 100 women will take to the notorious course, including team members from Airgas Cycling — the only professional cycling team out of Philadelphia to participate in the Philly Cycling Classic.
Last year, Airgas Cycling member and Kutztown native Zack Noonan won the U23 award.
This year Pennsylvania native and Penn State University first-year, Greg Ratzell will be the youngest rider in the race at 18 years old.
Where to watch
With the race course designed to create a more intimate experience between riders and spectators, there are plenty of exciting points along the route for spectating.
While the start/finish line near the top of "The Wall" on Lyceum Avenue by Pechin Street may be the most ideal of them all, the "Sprint Zone" located on Kelly Drive at Midvale Avenue as well as the "Feed Zone" on Reservoir Drive at the Strawberry Mansion softball fields promise ideal views of racers at their finest.
On Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the East Falls Block Party will be taking place on Midvale Avenue near Kelly Drive. The event will offer spectacular views of the race as well as live music, food trucks, kids activities and more.