West Chester was buzzing with cycling action last Saturday, August 12, as thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch kids racing on bikes, adults competing on trikes, amateur cyclists battling it out, and professional cyclists taking it to the streets in their quest for victory.
“We exclusively serve Chester County, so we take great pride in sponsoring a community event of this magnitude,” said Rebecca Worthington, Vice President of Marketing for Benchmark Federal Credit Union.
“We’re thrilled to commit as lead sponsor for five years, to ensure the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic continues to flourish and reflect positively on our community and its spirit.”
Pro racing fans found plenty of excitement as Philip Short (Nine Lives Carbon Repair) put the pedal to the metal and won the 2017 Iron Hill Pro Men’s Criterium with Matthew Salpietro (Texas Roadhouse) finishing second ahead of third place finisher, David Winston (Palmetto State Medical). With an average speed of over 27 mph, the racing action was so intense that only 24 riders finished.
On the pro women’s side, it was a magic moment to see Marlies Mejias (Weber Shimano Ladies Power) fly to the finish line, soundly beating second place finisher, Kirstin Bluhm (Fearless Femme Racing) and third place finisher, Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers) to win the 2017 Brumbaugh Wealth Management Pro Women’s Criterium. For four-time winner, Van Gilder, it was the fifth time she earned a podium finish.
The spirited Rothman Institute Amateur Criterium ended with a two-man breakaway with Matthew Randolph (Shirk’s Racing) out-sprinting Marcello Cesario (CS Velo) to take first place. Finishing 3rd ahead of the main field was Thomas Rotherham (Malaga Pushbike).
Thrills and laughter mixed freely during the very popular Tolsdorf Trike Challenge as 14 five-person teams faced off against each another in a round-robin series of heats on over-sized tricycles. In the end, Kelly’s Sports took the win for the second year in a row.
Although bike racing garnered most of the focus, visitors found plenty of other activities to enjoy. With its wide variety of inflatables and games, the Kids’ Zone was a magnet for the children, while the Community Festival attracted visitors with its potpourri of vendors of all descriptions showing off all the latest must-have items and services, food and information booths.
Those looking for local, hand-crafted beer were not disappointed as Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant opened a one-day-only beer garden.
By 10:30 P.M. it was over, awards handed out, and the streets began to empty. Suddenly the Lincoln University football team marched in cadence (watch video) to join other volunteers to begin the long process of taking down and cleaning up.
“It was a great day in West Chester. Thanks to the Borough, the members of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, our sponsors, the 200-plus volunteers including the Lincoln University Football Team and the West Chester Cycling Club, as well as the thousands of folks who came out for a good time,” commented Mark Yoder.
The Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic was presented by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. Sincere thanks goes to our volunteers, without whom this event couldn’t happen.
Special appreciation goes to the sponsors, partner organizations and businesses, the variety of services and departments of the Borough of West Chester and the local law enforcement. For more information on the day’s events, go to www.GreaterWestChester.com.