Being There: Thompson Bucks County/ Doylestown Health Classic 2019
All photos are 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.
“The break will never stick,” I thought as each lap saw new riders go for glory in the 2019 edition of the Bucks County Classic men’s race. Under perfect skies and lined with spectators, the Bucks County Classic day of bike racing scored a major success to wrap up the final day of the Doylestown Arts Festival. Sunday was all about the bikes.
In the morning the lineup featured two races: men’s category 3/4 and women’s category 3/4. Both of these races were new additions for 2019, thus expanding the presence around the outside of the unique Arts Festival of Doylestown. Amateur men and women got a chance to showcase possibly their final race of the season while steely-eyed shoppers looked for artsy purchases in the ‘infield’ of the racecourse. This is one weekend to prioritize in Doylestown. Seeing some familiar local faces zipping around for 45 minutes, the length of the men’s amateur race and 35 minutes, the length of the women’s amateur race, added to the camaraderie. Patrick Brown and Bethany Newton would take home the respective race victories.
The Doylestown Health professional women’s race made a fast a furious show out of the 25-mile race. Each lap the field was whittled down, as the order of the day was speed. Perhaps each race was capturing the leftover horsepower from last year’s rain-soaked event. Each lap of each race picked up in intensity. Rebecca Wiasek of Fearless Femme Racing soloed to wrap up a lengthy late season race schedule to stand atop the podium with Daniely del Valle Garcia Buitrago second and Caroline Baur finishing third.
One hundred men started the 2019 Thompson Bucks County Classic, the final race of the day, the weekend, and the Arts Festival. Either the racers were eager to rev it up or they were excited for the end of the road-racing season and wanted to get to the finish quickly. Either way, each lap displayed speed. This course gives no protection to racers who struggle going uphill, and strangely enough, no recourse for those who think they descend like downhill mountain bikers. The problem is everyone else thinks descending is where he or she can catch up. It doesn’t work that way.
We camped out at turns three and four, the fastest spots of the course to see the blur of the dwindling census. Several riders came off the back asking for directions to the neutral service tent. One rider was off the back directly at the start on account of a chain issue. The course was hard on the riders and the bikes, a proper way to end the season.
The race, too, was more for many of the Doylestown Bike Works p/b Fred Beans racers whose home shop was a few hundred yards from the sweeping turn four. With the largest team in the race, it was inspiring to see a Doylestown Bike Works rider at the front of the chase for nearly every lap. Sam Smith, Chris Meacham, Chris Baccash, and Andrew Dudle could be seen flashing by in the green and blue kits. Their full season was coming to an end one turn at a time.
Then came the breakaways. Each lap saw riders capitalize on chiseled legs with hopes of taking a flyer. Each following lap saw a new racer trying to go off the front, the last breakaway representatives huffing in the back and recovering. Further breakaway attempts would never be ruled out. But a couple of guys got away and each lap the comment, “The break will never stick,” proved to be suspect. Each lap Tanner Ward and Hugo Scala, Jr. got farther away. Geno Villafano, the third member of the break, was easy to spot with his top tube riding down Ashland Street, even over the speed bumps in the ‘super tuck.’ Three in the breakaway with a twenty-second lead was definitely a concern for those chasing.
Instead of remaining along the fast parts of the course, we ran up to the finish with about two laps to go. It is a sort of tradition to soak in the final moments of the racing season, even including the cool down circles post race. Here we climbed atop the War Memorial Wall, nearly in line with the finish stripe. A man in a black polo shirt tight roped his next to us. The big screen was barely visible through the tree leaves, the riders hardly visible prior to the finish line. The cowbells and cheering picked up as the lap cards counted down. “The break will never stick,” I muttered to myself as the last split was cleaved by a raging peloton.
Then, fewer than three minutes later, announcer Gary Thornton alerted the race goers the three-way battle was about to unfold. The break never got caught. Tanner Ward of CS Velo won the sprint to the line. The man standing next to me shrieked with the woman next to him. He was the CS Velo team owner. I doubt he heard me say congratulations but maybe it’s us. That’s the second time in three years the winning DS has been next to us at the Bucks County Classic. (It’s definitely us.)
As quickly as the racing moved into town, the sprinters regained their breath, the crowds dispersed, and the back-up beepers of event trucks pierced the sudden feeling of silence as they quickly cut zip ties and stowed barriers. The finish arch was disassembled shorty afterwards so traffic could access some of the roads again. The event never sticks around. Riders took to social media to post their departure later that night. Bike racers do not do anything in life slowly.
With an increasing schedule of bike racing in 2019, it is anyone’s guess what 2020 will look like. With the Bucks County Classic being the final stop after several Pennsylvania crits, look for great things. Just don’t ask us next year if the break will stick. We don’t want to be wrong again.