Events: Bucks County Classic Spotter’s Guide
Article photo courtesy of Mike Maney Photography. Be sure to check out his work; he is a fellow cyclist in the Bucks County cycling community with multiple KOMs to his name.
I am unaware of the next nearest professional cycling event that features a pro women’s race, pro men’s race, as well as an arts festival. Add in other attractions such as an amateur race in the morning as well as a cyclosportif, plus a block of kids’ racing, and it becomes a day for local cyclists to celebrate. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself among the crowd in Doylestown on Sunday, September 9th, we have some suggestions on how to spend the weekend.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, the Doylestown Art Festival is a weekend-long affair crossing Saturday morning into Sunday evening. This is the 27th year Doylestown has hosted the Arts Festival. A large portion of the town closes its streets and parking areas to allow vendors and visitors to explore tents of artists, musicians, or even visit the local shops and restaurants bordering the event. Both days feature vendors from 10 to 5.
Sunday is the main event for the cycling crowd. The cycling event schedule follows: the cyclosportif departure rolls out at 8:30am. This event sends riders around Bucks County roads before ultimately returning them to the bike race and their course-side tent to take in the races. An hour later the amateur men will take the professional course by storm in what is one of the final criterium races for many this season. The best part is things are only getting started.
Two diverse events follow the morning events: Kids racing will take center stage up the finishing stretch at 10:30am. Shortly after the kids have cleared out, the unique Brompton Burst will buzz around the professional bike course five times starting at 12:30. Brompton bikes are famous for their folding capabilities. Brompton races are even more unique considering races feature a Le Mans start, riders in business wear, and the requirement the race starts with their bikes folded up. This is more than entertainment, however, as even SEPTA has pledged a Brompton-only train car for participants to get to the event.
Moving over to the main events, the Doylestown Health Women’s Classic will start prior to the Brompton race at 11:30am. Participants will battle for equal purses for both professional races of $12,000. Moving over to the men’s race is the 15th annual Thompson Bucks County Classic starting at 1:00. The men will race a metric century and has regularly featured noticeable professional names on course.
So now that you have the schedule, how do you watch the entire racing day? Each race departs in front of the Doylestown Courthouse and plunges down Pine Street to turn onto Oakland. This descent is one of the fastest parts of the course as well as one of the most dramatic. Here all senses are activated as the peloton whips up a breeze full of cork brake scents. The final laps feature some risk taking, which produces the occasional crash. Moving down Oakland and the left turn onto south Main Street features one of the largest crowds on course. This is where many people who are experiencing Art Fest take a peak at the passing race. Here is where the whistles of volunteers are heard and suddenly the riders burst as if from nowhere to blaze through the corner.
But the descent action continues just one block farther as riders merge onto west Ashland Street and displays the highest top speeds on course. Be prepared to find yourself stepping back from the curb as the groups fly by looking to keep the wheel in front of them. This is the dramatic plunge to the lowest spot on the course. Riders will take Ashland Street into the residential parts of Doylestown. Feel free to follow the route around this area while being in awe at the communal gatherings of front yard parties and unsaid rules of sidewalk space. Here is also where one can add to the discarded team water bottle collection as it is the feed zone for the men's race.
The course regains its altitude on a return trip up Oakland Avenue where it meets up with south Clinton Street. This intersection can be full of action as it is the neutral pits location. Riders with mechanicals can pull in for a free lap and rejoin the race. Look for this to be a key spot to witness any equipment mishaps as well as the stress of returning to a race at full speed.
The course makes a shallow right-hand-turn to continue the uphill slog with nearly four blocks of climbing to the finish line on Court Street. Here the party is in full swing as it is the closest the race comes to Arts Fest. The artistic and cycling crowds mix here to watch the speed and fury of professional cycling around Doylestown. If you managed to do an entire lap of the course, you will find yourself back at the start/ finish line with about a dozen laps remaining.
Who knows how many kids in attendance will be inspired to race in either the Doylestown Women’s Classic or the Thompson Bucks County Classic? A good bet can be figured that when given exposure to these sort of festivals, more than just the kids go home inspired to ride their bike Sunday night around the neighborhood. Make it a point to peer at some of the professional riding this Sunday in Doylestown. It will be a full day of action pushing off from a relaxed town center that is closed to all but foot traffic. Who knows where the next nearest UCI event is held, but why worry? Get to this one and spend the day.