Events: The Bucks County Classic 2017
(2017) One of the enjoyable aspects of memorable events is the spectacle in execution. Events that have been around for years, decades, or even a century always seem to go off without a hitch. It appears that way on the surface anyways. Behind the scenes there are storms of workers making sure everything goes off perfectly. Having years of experience certainly helps the machine work well. Whether it’s the Indy 500 or it’s the Bucks County Classic, experience shows.
Should you find yourself within reasonable distance of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on the weekend of September 9th and 10th, it would behoove you to make your way to the town celebration known as the Doylestown Arts Festival. For those that find their way to this website, Sunday of the 26th annual Doylestown Arts Festival is the day to go. Included in the celebration of starving artists is a celebration of bicycles both old and new.
Studying the Sunday cycling docket of the Bucks County Classic, racing starts at 9 AM. The category two and three amateur men will tackle the same racecourse as the professional men and women. Shortly after the open men’s race the future bike racers of the area will hammer up the front straightaway. Kids from three to thirteen can try their luck on a course 220 and 320, yards respectively. Often many of the professional racers can be seen encouraging their kids up to the finishing line. It’s been a great tradition to have young riders cheered on to the finish line to promote the future of cycling in the area.
Shortly after the kids’ race, at 10:30 AM, Bucks County heads back to the past with an official high wheel race. The Lenape Scorcher, started last year and supported by the local bike shop, Doylestown Bike Works, is in its second year. The race is longer, yet just as treacherous. Last year the high wheels went up and down the finish straightaway of the criterium course. Due to the safety concern of riding a bike with direct drive as well as the pilot sitting five feet off the ground, the high wheelers do not navigate the criterium course. That’s a good thing.
At 11:45 AM the professional races start. The women’s race starts first with the men’s race following at 1:00 PM. Both races are highly recommended as the women put on a remarkable show last year with Josie Talbot who rocketed off the front and stayed there for all but the last two laps. She was dethroned by her teammate Skylar Schneider who went on to victory. It was exciting to watch from start to finish.
The men’s race will feature the who’s-who of criterium racing. The past two years have hosted Eric Marcotte, the former American criterium champion. Recognizable names such as Bobby Lea, Chris Horner, Danny Pate, Janier Acevado, Matthew Busche, Robby Carpenter, Edwin Avila, and the –then- American criterium champion, Brad Huff. By now it should be obvious this is a race with credibility when those men and women toe the line.
Every person I’ve talked to about the race, I’ve given the same directory regarding the course: Watch the start from the start/finish line, then begin walking clockwise around the course. Obviously each time they come around watch the group pass. Spend a little time at the fast downhill turn at Pine Street onto Oakland to inhale the wafting of burning cork brakes. Take the one-block trek where the course makes another fast downhill turn onto Main Street. Spend a few laps watching them zip through this fast left-hander then stroll on down to possibly the most impressive turn in all of American criterium racing: the sweeping downhill right-hand turn from Main Street onto Ashland. The group carries remarkable speed through this turn in the forty-miles-per-hour range. In past years we have stopped for pizza at Jules Pizza, a restaurant featuring a patio overlooking a majority of the turn. Continuing down the descending Ashland Street, riders make the uphill right onto Washington then continue back onto Oakland Street. Here there will be front yard parties and shaded throughways. It’s also the feedzone. This part of the course carries a completely independent vibe from the rest of the course.
The race party gets congested at the left turn onto Clinton Street. Here the neutral pit stall is ready for any rider with a mechanical. The route returns amidst the Arts Festival, and the crowds get larger. Finally the riders turn right onto Court Street and begin the deceptive uphill slog back to the start/finish line. If a spectator followed them around the course in due time, it would put him/her back at the finish line with approximately ten laps to go. It may not be the best view of the finish, but it’s worth the tradeoff to have walked the entire course and witnessed each approach and exit to every sector.
Sunday September 10th is certainly the day to set aside on the calendar for any cyclist in the area. With races that span over a century of technology, the day – and ultimately the weekend – will be over in the blink of an eye. That’s why it is important to seize this opportunity. When Bucks County does professional cycling, the County goes in with extreme spectacle to racing.