Watching a professional bicycle race is one of the most exhilarating and interesting sporting experiences available, especially the speed and spectacle of American style criterium racing. The best criterium – or short course race – in the USA is the Thompson Bucks County Classic, set to be held September 9 in Doylestown. The race is the final stop on the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, a season-long series that includes all of the best races in the country and draws a rich field of talent from the men’s and women’s professional ranks.
The high-speed action on the 1.4-mile racecourse allow fans to feel the rush of wind and noise as the peloton – or field of racers – roars by in a long, colorful line, lap after lap. The Doylestown racecourse in particular is renowned as being one of the most challenging of the entire circuit with its mix of high-speed twisting downhills and its infamous long, hard climb up to the top of town and finish line.
One of the best ways to watch the race is a walk through the Doylestown Arts Festival, which the racecourse encircles, to find various vantage points to enjoy the racing action. 50mph downhills, tight turns that require hard, last-second braking or the jostling for position before the final straightaway all add up to a race that is full of different images and sensations to experience.
The Day’s Events
The day begins at 8:30 a.m. with the Cyclosportif, or recreational ride that goes out into Upper Bucks County, with the racing starting at 9:30 a.m. with the Amateur Men. The popular children’s races start at 10:30 a.m. with sprints on the professional racecourse for the youngsters. Then at 11:30 a.m. the Pro Road Tour Women take the stage for one of the most hard-fought and tactical races on the circuit. A touch of levity comes at 12:30 p.m. for the Brompton – English folding bike – race, before 1:00 p.m. when the professional men line up for the final race of the day. The 100 kilometers (62-miles) men’s race is considered as the longest and toughest criterium of the year and spectators, literally inches away from the racers, will see riders at their very limits in a sport that allows proximity to the athletes unlike any other.
The Cyclosportif is a non-competitive recreational ride that offers two choices, 30- or 60-mile routes that take the participants through Upper Bucks County and some of the most beautiful cycling roads around. A VIP tent awaits the finishers on the final turn of the pro racecourse, where the Cyclos can enjoy a post-ride meal and refreshments while watching the exciting racing action. Sag and mechanical support, escort motorcycles and feed zones add to the attraction of the ride. Participants are asked to be aware that the Cyclosportif is not a Gran Fondo, there is no competitive aspect to it, and riders are asked to ride according to traffic rules and with respect to the host communities.
The Thompson Bucks County Classic is the perfect outing for a family. To begin with, it’s free to the public, a rarity for events today. The Doylestown Arts Festival is in the center of the racing action for a taste of fun and culture, and there are activities for children, weekend warriors and really anyone looking for memorable experience. See this race once, and you’ll always want to come back.