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Biking in Bucks County:
Bike tours abound in summer around Bucks and beyond
by David Campbell
The Univest Grand Prix heats up Doylestown in early September.
In an age of uncertainty, in a world dependent on oil and, now, oil exploration, the bicycle has made a comeback, or so it seems.
Fortunately for many in this area, Bucks County offers a number of slightly challenging but always aestheticaly pleasing rides of varying lengths throughout the summer months for beginners and experienced riders.
The sun’s intense rays often tickle riders in late July on the River to River Route 113 Heritage Bicycle Tour, which explores some of the scenic landscape of Bucks and Montgomery counties.
It begins and ends at Penn Valley Church in Telford and attracts more than 400 cyclists.
“Riders were really pleased with it,” said Sandra Yerger, describing participants’ reaction to a recent tour. “They said it was a great event, and it was a beautiful area to ride through.”
The tour supports the Heritage Conservancy, a leader in natural and historic preservation, and features four courses: 25-, 50-, 75- or 100-mile figure-eight loops of varied terrain along lightly traveled roads adjacent to the Route 113 corridor, traversing small towns from the Delaware to the Schuylkill River.
“Even though we tried to pick moderate terrain,” said Yerger, on behalf of the conservancy, which has been involved with the bike tour for nearly five years, “you go over to Tinicum, you’re going to get hills. Some of the course is hilly, obviously.”
In other words, it can be challenging, to say the least.
Such is the case with the Tour de Tinicum, which is expected to enter its ninth season in July 2009.
The tour, a benefit for the Delaware Valley Volunteer Fire Company, features five fully supported bicycle rides of varying difficulty: the Towpath/Family Ride, The Classic Tour, Mixed Road Tour, The Hills of Tinicum Tour and Endurance Tour plus a Metric Century.
The tour begins and ends at the Delaware Valley firehouse in Erwinna. It includes mechanical and SAG support, rest stops and a post-ride firehouse picnic.
The James A. Michener Art Museum’s annual ArtCycle, Tour de Bucks, Pedaling for the Arts, celebrated its sixth year in 2008. ArtCycle acts as a benefit for the Michener Museum and its educational programs.
The River to River Route 113 Heritage Bicycle Tour
more than 400 cyclists.
ArtCycle, typically held the first Sunday of September, offers three classic Bucks County road rides: 20-, 38- or 63-mile fully marked and supported routes for all levels.
An entry ticket includes catered rest stops, detailed cue sheets and maps, SAG wagons to pick up disabled bikes or bikers and free bike inspections. A post-ride celebration, with food and beer, is held in the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden at the Michener Museum in Doylestown.
The race launches with staggered starts from the Doylestown museum.
The County Seat is also the site – or, at least, one of them – for the annual Univest Grand Prix, which rolls through Souderton in early September, then hits the pavement of Doylestown the following day.
“I love this race,” John Eustice, president of Sparta Cycling, told the Herald during a press conference at Doylestown Borough Hall last summer. “I love it. It’s a beautiful race and it’s a pleasure to work on it.”
The Doylestown race consists of 35 laps on a 1.5-mile circuit, starting and ending at North Main Street and West Court Street and extending along West Ashland Street to Lafayette Street and back on West Oakland Avenue.
The Tour de Tinicum will turn 9 years old in July.
The Univest Grand Prix will celebrate a dozen years in 2009. The Doylestown race is usually held in conjunction with the Doylestown Arts Festival in early September.
The two-day road race featured 180 professional and a few amateur cyclists from 30 teams and numerous countries, including Italy, Germany, Mexico, Hungary, Belgium, Colombia and Canada, competing for $20,000 in prize money, in 2008.
“It’s a hard race,” said Eustice, a former professional cyclist and a two-time United States Professional champion. “The thing about the Univest Grand Prix…it’s no walk in the park. It’s the hardest race of the year for many of these riders.”
Although much of the Univest Grand Prix is a spectator sport for many, the Cyclosportif is offered to recreational riders prior to the Souderton race. The courses (either 40 or 60 miles in length) follow the same track the professionals will take shortly thereafter.
“If you’re someone that loves bikes, you like to ride bikes, follow bike racing, it’s very difficult to find a better weekend of cycling anywhere in the United States,” said Eustice.
Eustice could have been speaking about Bucks County, in the summer, because that’s when biking really begins to heat up.
The final event is the Covered Bridge Tour in October, which attracts more than 2,000 bikers. The tour begins at Tinicum Park, Route 32, Erwinna. Information is available at cbbikeclub.org.