Your guide to the 2012 bike race weekend

Hundreds of professional cyclists in the 28th Annual TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and the women’s Liberty Classic will spin their wheels through Northwest Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Pro Cycling Tour is a spectator favorite in Philadelphia with over 300,000 attendees, so NewsWorks has put together some helpful tips to keep you in-the-know throughout the weekend.

First route alteration in 28 years

This year, changes were made in the course for the first time in 28 years.

The official race will begin at 10:45 a.m. on the Parkway and will feature a new 124-mile route (formerly 156-miles) which includes seven laps (formerly 10) up the Manayunk Wall in the 14.7 (formerly 14.4) mile circuit through the city.

Changes were initiated in order to include the Bicycling Magazine Open, which will begin before the actual race at 7 a.m. This Gran Fondo or “Big Ride” allows amateur riders to experience the course by riding all or parts of the course for up to three laps. Many of the riders in this race turned their ride into a fundraiser in collaboration with the event’s Charity of Choice program.

These changes are meant to increase the speed of the cyclers, and the race will now feature five finishing circuits between Logan Circle and Lemon Hill.

The race will still begin on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and take riders down Kelly Drive, up the Manayunk Wall along the Schuylkill River and through Fairmount Park before heading back to the finish line on the Parkway.

Finding a fan section

Want to catch that breathtaking moment of the beginning and/or end of the race? We suggest arriving early and finding a place to settle at the start/finish line, known as the “Feed Zone,” which is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The racers begin checking in at 5:30 a.m., so “early” means just that.

Spectator areas are available along the entire course, which stretches from Manayunk to Logan Square. A designated “Family Fun Zone” is featured on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Areas along Main Street and “The Wall” in Manayunk are exceptional race spots to catch the most difficult hill-top stretches of the race.

If you have the extra cash, the tour is offering VIP tickets at $95 per person. The package includes a seat under a tented section of the start/finish line, food and drink, free parking, shuttle service, and a chance to ride the course in an official pace car. 

With an early start and some old-fashioned footwork, other good viewing options to aim for are at Lemon Hill and along Kelly Drive, both within Fairmount Park.

SEPTA shows spectators some love

On Sunday, SEPTA is offering spectators nearly double the amount of normal Sunday service on the Manayunk/Norristown Line during the event. Train stations along the cycling route include East Falls, Wissahickon and Manayunk Station. 

Riders are encouraged to ride to Manayunk Station, near the corner of Carson & Cresson streets, which will allow them to walk to “The Wall” and other prime viewing spots. 

Trains to Manayunk will operate every 30 minutes inbound and outbound from 7:25 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

A shuttle bus will also provide service every half hour from Elm Street and Main Street stations to Norristown Transportation Center from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Inbound train service will originate at the Norristown Transportation Center during these hours.

Shuttle buses will also meet outbound trains at the Norristown Transportation Center every 30 minutes from 8:47 a.m. until 7:23 p.m., then transport passengers to Main and Elm Street Stations.

On SEPTA’s website, visitors can view the Manayunk/Norristown Line schedule for exact train times and stop information.

Pro Cycling debuts ’em-bracelet’ to encourage cycling support

This May, the Pro Cycling Tour launched a bracelet effort to encourage the community to show its support for the race. Merchants were asked to sell or purchase a jar filled with the gray “Embrace the Race” wristbands, also called “em-bracelets.”

Anyone who purchases the bracelets will receive a special clue about sponsored giveaways through a free bike race app on race day.

Pro Cycling Tour director Dave Chauner says these “Embrace the Race” bracelets will help to cement the professional bike race as an iconic Philadelphia event. The group says it needs more support to continue as TD Bank will not continue sponsorship into 2013.

If the group can’t sign-on a lead sponsor for the next three to five years and before this September, the race could be in serious jeopardy.

Street closures 

The detours on race day will restrict access into the Manayunk area beginning at 6 a.m. on Sunday, June 3. Any vehicles traveling north on Ridge Avenue will be detoured at School House Lane.

No vehicles will be allowed south of Green Lane between Main and Pechin Streets.  Kelly Drive and MLK Drive will remain closed to all traffic beginning at 5 a.m. on Sunday.

The cross streets on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be open when possible.  Portions of the race that take place along the Parkway will be detoured at certain intersections to allow motorists to travel around the Parkway.

Below is a full list of street closures from the Philadelphia Streets Department. These streets will not allow parking or traffic during the times designated.

Main Street from Ridge Avenue to Green Lane on Sunday, June 3, from 2:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Levering Avenue/Lyceum Avenue (the Wall) from Main Street to Pechin Street on Friday, June 1, starting at 8 a.m. through Sunday, June 3, at 8 p.m.
Pechin Street/Lyceum Avenue intersection to Roxborough Avenue on Friday, June 1, at 8 a.m. through Sunday, June 3, at 8 p.m.
Roxborough Avenue/Pechin Street intersection to Manayunk Avenue on Friday, June 1, at 8 a.m. through Sunday, June 3, at 8 p.m.
Manayunk Avenue/Roxborough Avenue intersection to Kingsley Street on Friday, June 1, at 8 a.m. through Sunday, June 3, at 8 p.m.
Manayunk Avenue/Kingsley Street intersection to Ridge Avenue on Sunday, June 3, from 2 a.m. through 6 p.m.
Ridge Avenue/Manayunk Avenue intersection to School House Lane on Sunday June 3, from 2 a.m. through 6 p.m.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 18th to 25th Street on Sunday, June 3, from 2 a.m. through 6 p.m.

For more information on the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and the women’s Liberty Classic, go to

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal