By Eric Devlin, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> Downtown Pottstown transformed into a cyclist’s paradise Sunday afternoon. As they furiously pedaled downtown for the first time since the late 1990s, hundreds of athletes helped usher in the successful return of the Pottstown Bike Race.
More than 300 cyclists competed in a series of races that began at noon and featured a 0.9 mile course throughout borough streets. Each of the eight races — two women’s races and six men’s races — began at High and Charlotte streets. Riders then turned left onto North Evans Street before turning on to Walnut Street and then again onto North Hanover Street. They then completed a lap by making their way back to High and Charlotte streets. During each lap, athletes sprinted in a tight row formation past the sidelined spectators, each looking to gain an edge on the ever-shifting leader.
For Colleen Gulick, race co-director, the return of the bike race was a great success.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more cooperative and a great day in terms of weather and the community coming out to support it,” she said. “Things are going great.”
The event was lucky to gain the community’s support, Gulick said. Among the many vendors that helped out was Sly Fox Brewing Company, which set up a beer garden for spectators to relax and drink while the cycling action whizzed passed them, while Asian fusion restaurant, Azie, provided the food.
The strong show of support was hopefully a sign of future success, Gulick said.
“Hopefully people want it back again next year,” she said.
Many fans agreed it was great to see cycling action return to Pottstown after being gone for so long.
Jay Zubey, of Spring City, and Todd Fritsche, from Kimberton, were enjoying a fresh beer while they watched the cycling action. Avid cyclists themselves, they said they were enjoying the return of the event after a long day riding.
“We rode 25 miles before we rode here,” Fritsche said.
“We’re 40 miles into our day, but we came here to watch the race,” Zubey said. “We’re just bike geeks I guess.”
Both agreed they were having a lot of fun watching the races.
“It’s awesome,” Fritsche said.
Mary Shirk, of Lancaster County, and Martha Ruggero, of Lederach, also had glowing remarks for the race. They came to watch Ruggero’s nephew who was competing.
“Everything’s perfect,” Shirk said. “All the locals are nice. And it’s set up well as far as direction and where to park. The map that was on the internet was wonderful.”
“It’s really nice,” Ruggero said.
Giovanna Pineda, from New Jersey, came to watch her husband and brother-in-law in the race, and said Pottstown stacked up well against other competitions in the area.
“It’s nice. I didn’t expect it to be this big,” she said with a laugh. “And it’s big.”