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Phoenixville Criterium Seems Likely to Return

Though attendance underwhelmed, organizers say they view the borough as a race site with great potential.

Despite the oppressive heat and logistical tangles that checkered this year’s , organizers are expectant that the race will return to the borough next year.

“We’re going to sit down and do a formal debriefing in a couple weeks, but right now everybody is on board to do it again,” said borough council middle ward representative Jenn Mayo, who spearheaded the effort to land the race.

Mayo, who called the cycling event a huge success, did admit that there are some aspects that require improvement. The streets were nearly empty before a late influx of spectators coincided with the start of the professional portion of the race, and several businesses complained to Patch that the event not only failed to boost commerce, but actually–because of road closures–discouraged customers from coming to Phoenixville.

Though there are no official attendance estimates for Saturday’s event, it fell well short of the .

“We definitely have some kinks,” she said, listing among them the heat (temperatures reached 94 degrees, though occasional cloud cover softened its impact) and the host of problems that sprung from the impromptu nature of the race’s organization.

Not only was this the first year of the Chesco Grand Prix–which caused some unsurprising schematic hiccups on the end of the Grand Prix organizers–but the borough council, , parking, road closures, and other details, didn’t formally approve the race until June 12–just 18 days before the starting gun.

This left Mayo and other organizers scrambling to inform residents of traffic changes, secure sponsors, , and get word out about the event itself to prospective attendees.

These problems, she emphasized, are correctable.

“We’re going to concentrate next year on getting more volunteers, more advertising, and scheduling it earlier to avoid the heat,” said Mayo.

Crosby Wood, the co-executive director of the Chesco Grand Prix said that he was pleased with the race and views Phoenixville as a site with tremendous potential–he repeatedly cited the borough’s great infrastructure–but said that if cyclists are going to return to the downtown, the community will have to support it more robustly.

“We need more engagement,” he said, specifying that he meant both on the part of local sponsors, and the race’s attendees.

He said he and his team will, in the coming weeks, evaluate which of the Grand Prix’s seven component race sites worked, which didn’t, and decide how to proceed. Despite the rocky start, he seemed optimistic that Phoenixville would be in their future plans.

“The cyclists loved the course,” he said, echoing Mayo’s enthusiasm about the looping 1.3 mile route through the borough the council mapped.

“They said it was very memorable.”

Whether it will live on only in memory remains to be seen.

Hipster Kitty July 03, 2012 at 03:00 PM
My wife and I were actually going to go to Nudy's and the farmer's market on Saturday, but when we remembered the bike race was taking place, we ditched those plans and went elsewhere - not Phoenixville. I'm sure we were not the only people who were scared off from coming into town because of traffic congestion and the guaranteed lack of parking.
Ed Roper July 03, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I hope we get the race again, but I agree with about everybody else in town who says the promotion of the race needs a major overhaul. Not even a banner across bridge st? Borough council dropped the ball it seems like as well, not giving the organizers time to plan. Get it together BC...
Kim July 03, 2012 at 04:48 PM
There were children racing and men racing. What about the women? Would love to see a women's race added. I wonder what the reasoning was not to include.
Rob Cywinski July 03, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I am all about boosting the local economy of where I live, but when Street parking becomes unobtainable on Vanderslice its no good. I left town for the day just to dodge the nonsense. From what I heard it was a dull event and more of a headache for residents, but I guess the town politcians felt good about themselves after so we can expect more chaos next year. Guess I should dust off my old Huffy and start training for next year.
tigero88 July 03, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Next time schedule it to END before 5 PM. We tried to go to dinner at one of the restaurants on Main Street and couldn't find any parking b/k of all the road closures. We ended up going to another restaurant.

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