By Eric Devlin, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> Cyclists from across the region will descend on the borough Sunday for the return of the Pottstown Bike Race.
More than 400 athletes are expected to compete in the series of races featuring a 0.9 mile course throughout borough streets with over $5,000 in cash and prizes on the line.
The rain-or-shine event kicks off at noon July 16 and attendance is free.
The seven races will begin at High and Charlotte streets then on to North Evans Street before riders turn on to Walnut Street and then again onto North Hanover Street. They then complete a lap by making their way back to the starting point.
Riders will follow a pace car sponsored by Valley Forge Sports and Tourism, which will lead the first lap of every race.
Dawn Gulick, race co-director, said this year’s race is a week later than last year so as not to compete with a similar event in New Jersey.
“We’re very excited. We had over 300 racers last year. They got 300 on the same date and well over 400 this year,” she said. “We’re hoping our numbers will go up a respectable amount as well.”
Riders, she said, race all across the country, though often the races are held in industrial parks without much a crowd making it hard to gets sponsors. Holding the race in a downtown area where residents can cheer on riders from their porches gives the competitors a boost and shows people how exciting the sport can be.
This year’s race will include a vendors row on the north side of High Street between Penn and Hanover streets, where sponsors and vendors will sell merchandise. Sly Fox Brewing Company will set up a beer garden with food provided by Gatsby’s in the clock tower lot for spectators to grab a bite and a brew while the action cycles by in front of them.
In addition to the seven USA Cycling Federation licensed races, there will also be a kids race and a corporate challenge. Each of the event’s corporate sponsors will compete in a four lap relay race for trophy, Gulick said. The sponsors will form teams of four and each do one lap around the course. The winner takes all, though each team will get a glass and a beer when they finish.
Road closures will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday and postcards have already been sent out to residents and facilities. By 8 a.m. all cars must be removed from the course. At 11 a.m. athletes will begin warming up on the course, followed by the launch of the first race at noon. By 9 p.m. all roads will be reopened. Residents who live on the interior of the course, race marshals will be at all intersections to help safely get them home.
The following parking lots will be available during the race to park for free:
• BB&T Bank lot – King Street West of Hanover
• 1st Baptist Church lot – King and Charlotte streets
• School Administration Lot – Walnut Street
“This event would not be possible without so many people working together,” said Gullick, thanking Pottstown Memorial Medical Center and the Sunnybrook Cycling Club, sponsored by Bike Sport, for their efforts.
Full details about the event are available online at http://www.pottstownbikerace.com/