Hundreds of cyclists are gearing up for this Sunday’s Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic through Manayunk, Roxborough, East Falls and Fairmount Park.
This year’s race will have a new look with a shorter course, new sponsors and a new start/finish line at the top of “The Wall” in Roxborough.
The nearly 30-year-old professional cycling tradition was close to coming to a close this January before being revived by Parx Casino, Rep. Bob Brady and a local coalition aimed at keeping the competition in Philadelphia. Parx Casino has pledged $500,000 to the race over the next two years.
With new organizers comes a new circuit, and Parx Casino has revamped the entire course with a sharp focus on making it more spectator-friendly.
‘The Wall’ and promoting ‘equal pay for equal pain’
The new course features a shorter, 12-mile circuit which begins and ends atop “The Wall,” the infamously steep hill that runs from Manayunk to Roxborough on Lyceum Avenue.
Previous race courses for the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship included a start/finish line on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and featured a 14.7-mile circuit through the city. The site of the new finish line makes competitors climb the wall before crossing the finish line, unlike the previous course which allowed them to sprint to the end.
From “The Wall,” cyclists will work their way down Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River to Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill before returning to Manayunk’s Main Street and back up “The Wall.”
A pre-race Bicycling Open, which will benefit the Cadence Cycling Foundation, will begin at 7:15 a.m. and include a one-time loop of the new race course. The women’s race, which consists of 100 participants, will begin at 8:30 a.m. That race includes 5 laps of the 12-mile circuit, equaling 60 miles. The men’s race, which consists of 200 participants, will begin at 12 p.m. That race consists of 10 laps, equaling 120 miles.
With Parx Casino at the helm, the bike race rewards have changed in a big way: both male and female winners will receive an equal prize amount. In the past, the women’s prize has been a fraction of the size of the men’s.
On Sunday, the $60,000 prize purse will be split equally between the male and female winners. The same goes for winners of the highest King of the Mountain (KOM) and Queen of the Mountain (QOM) prize purse of any one day race in the United States at $5,000 each.
Finding a spectator spot
A top pick for viewing the race this year is at the new start/finish line located at Lyceum and Pechin streets in Roxborough.
Other good viewing options include the “Sprint Spot,” located on Main and Cotton streets, and the “Feed Zone,” located on Kelly Drive in the River Parking Lot.
The East Falls “Bike Race Block Party,” is another viewing option throughout the day (more info below).
The official course map shows other viewing options along the course.
Cycling Classic weekend activities
Keeping with the spirit of bike race weekend, a “Walk the Wall” fundraiser will be held on Saturday.
This first-annual event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., challenges people to walk the ever-challenging Manayunk hill throughout the day. The walk starts at the base of Levering St. and makes its way up Lyceum Avenue to Manayunk Avenue.
General admission is $15 online, $20 at the event. Group and child rates are also available. All proceeds will benefit Journey’s Way, the Manayunk-Roxborough Food Co-Op, North Light Community Center, and the Roxborough YMCA.
The East Falls Development Corporation will host a family-friendly “Bike Race Block Party” that will feature food trucks, music, kids trike races, moon bounces, face painting and other activities. The block party will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Midvale Ave. near Kelly Dr. in East Falls.
If you like the idea of $1 off all Yards brews all day, then you might also enjoy the bike race party at the Old Eagle Tavern, located on Markle Street. The event will feature brews and brewers from Yards Brewing Company.
Traveling to and from the race
With limited parking available on race day, event organizers recommend traveling by SEPTA, trolley, bicycle or by foot.
A local trolley bus will be available in East Falls throughout race day beginning at Ridge and Midvale avenues, all the way to the East Falls Philadelphia Rock Gym, located on Scotts Lane, which will feature race-day discounts on climbing activities for kids.
The $1 trolley wristband includes unlimited rides all day. Trolley wristbands will also act as a coupon at designated businesses on race day.
SEPTA’s best deal is the “One Day Independence Pass,” an $11 pass that can be used all-day on buses, trolleys, regional rail lines and subways.
Regional rail users can use SEPTA’s 30-minute outbound service from 30th Street Station to Manayunk. The service will run from 7:20 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. on race-day. Other regional rail stops that will take you in-and-around the bike race area include East Falls, Wissahickon and Ivy Ridge with an estimated travel time of 20-minutes from Center City.
SEPTA says that bus routes 27, 32, 35, R and K will be running, but may be delayed or detoured due to the race. A special SEPTA Bike Race timetable is available on iseptaphilly.com. For schedules, visit septa.org.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia comprised these bicycle-friendly routes to-and-from the race.
There will also be free “bike valets” available along Main St. on race day.
Preparing for race-day street closures
Detours on race day will restrict access into the Manayunk area beginning at 6 a.m. on Sunday, June 2. Below is a full list of street closures. Parking and traffic will be prohibited during the times designated.
Main St. from Green Ln. to Ridge Ave.
Lyceum Ave. from Levering St. to Mitchell St.
Pechin St. from Green Ln. to Roxborough Ave.
Roxborough Ave. from Pechin St. to Manayunk Ave.
Manayunk Ave. from Roxborough Ave. to Ridge Ave.
Ridge Ave. from Manayunk Ave. to Kelly Dr.
Cresson St. from Levering St. to Rector St.
Other street closures in and around Manayunk, East Falls and Roxborough include:
100 block of Shurs Ln.
100 block of Jamestown St.
100 block of Pensdale St.
01-100 block of Rector St.
100 block of Roxborough Ave.
01-100 block of Cotton St.
100 block of Grape St.
100 block of Levering St.
100 block of Gay St.
100 block of Connaroe St.
100 block of Carson St.
300 block of Burnside St.
Lyceum Ave. from Mitchell St. to Ridge Ave.
Rector St. from Terrace St. to Pechin St.
Pensdale St. from Terrace St. to Lauriston St.
Kingsley St. from Manayunk Ave. to Lauriston St.
Salaignac St. from Manayunk Ave. to Lauriston St.
Terrace St. from Dawson St. to Ridge Ave.
Manayunk Ave. from Ridge Ave. to Osborn St.
Vassar St. from Ridge Ave. to Cresson St.
Mitchell St. from Connaroe St. to Martin St.
For more information on the 2013 Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, visit www.phillycyclingclassic.org.