This year’s Manayunk Bike Race appeared to be a smooth ride for public officials, after facing complaints and difficulties in years past. Known this year as the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, negative media attention surrounded the event in recent gatherings. Local residents complained of the rowdy and drunken behavior associated with the race, primarily brought in by those just visiting for the day.
“A lot of people go away for the weekend, to be honest with you,” said Jeff Prorok, long time resident. “Its an inconvenience for a lot of people.”
The race requires residents to move their cars far away and they cannot easily navigate around town, as fences block off main roads and intersections. Still, some note major improvements in recent years.
“I think the past two years, its been a little better than it was years ago,” said resident Dorris Mulchano. “They’ve tried much harder with security.”
While local bars and the prevalent college crowd largely encourage drinking, the day continues to attract families and community groups. Mulchano spent her day selling hot dogs and lemonade for her local church.
This year’s slight variation from a 14 to 12 mile course loop also kept the race in a more consolidated area, to stop crowds from spreading further out through the town, and to keep up fan interest. The smaller course meant the cyclists would complete the laps in a shorter timeframe, therefore allowing viewers to see the athletes in shorter intervals.
Starting and finishing at the famous Manayunk Wall on Lyceum Ave, the biggest crowds gathered in this area, lining the street from the bottom to the top of the steep hill.
Decisions to shorten the course, as well as the name change, came primarily from a change in sponsorship, and a focus on reducing costs. This year’s main benefactor was Parx Casino.