5 Best Spots to Watch and Celebrate the Manayunk Bike Race
The annual Philly Cycling Classic could always use a little more cowbell. On Sunday, June 7th, thousands of professional riders from across the globe will gather in Manayunk to compete for a grand prize of $30,000. And this year, for the first time in the race’s 30-year history, women are taking center stage in the featured race of the day. The men’s race will start at 8 a.m., and the ladies take off at 12:30 p.m.
You’ll want to secure a good spot to witness this long-overdue history in the making, so we’ve rounded up a list of prime vantage points to view the race along the 12-mile circuit—from parties and prime picnic spots to a coveted position on The Wall.
East Falls Block Party
Traditionally, Manayunk tends to turn in to one giant block party during and after the race. Several are scattered throughout the circuit. East Falls Development Corporation hosts one of the more notable bashes on Kelly Drive and Midvale Avenue, where vendors set up shop, local bands jam outdoors, and a carnival is organized for kids to enjoy. Rita’s Water Ice and Curbside Creamery are familiar venues that will be featured at this year’s bash. Be warned, this is a sprint zone so you may have to dodge a few sweat beads leftover from riders.
Recline in some lawn chairs and fire up the grill. The historic Lemon Hill is one of the more relaxing race locales. Onlookers can enjoy the action in front of the scenic city skyline. This is a prime spot to picnic and whip up some grub on the barbie. For moments of lull in between the racing action, spectators have the option to venture onto hiking trails that snake back into Fairmount Park. Lemon Hill serves as a turn around point for the 12-mile circuit course.
For approximately 124 miles, riders will race up and down the hilly landscape. A large portion of the ride takes competitors through a scenic Kelly Drive riverside. Spectators can watch dozens of men and women’s teams race along the Schuylkill. Car traffic will be blocked off to make way for foot traffic, creating yet another optimum picnic area. The average rider can hit speeds up to 35 mph on a flat surface. If you’re close enough, you may just find cool relief from the gusts of wind generated by a swarm of racers sprinting past you.
Main Street Manayunk
Here is an appealing option for you socialites. Downtown Manayunk will be blocked off to vehicular traffic to make way for … you guessed it … more block parties. Pubs and restaurants along Main Street will open their doors and offer special deals throughout the day. Bars hosting bike race events include JD Mcgillicudy’s, Mad River, and Borbon Blue. Crack open a brusky and rock a buzz while cheering on your favorite speed racer.
The rolling hills of Manayunk will come alive with the sound of a roaring crowd. The Wall is a combination of Levering Street and Lyceum Avenue, and may very well be one of the most enticing spots of the entire circuit. It is a one-half mile monster slope with a 17-percent incline that can be difficult for even spectators in decent shape to ascend by foot. It serves as the start and finish line of the race and creates a neck-and-neck challenge that is radically painful to climb yet incredibly entertaining to watch. The Wall is home to tons of block parties and allows for an unbeatable proximity to the racers.
A live stream of each race will be available on June 7th here.