Although Reading lost one bicycle race, it has gained another.
After dropping the Reading 120 this year after disagreements between local officials and the race organizer, community and business leaders came together to salvage a cycling event for the region.
On Sept. 8 and 9, the city will host the Reading Radsport Festival. Billed as a community event, the festival will feature live music, entertainment and races for professional riders, amateur and casual cyclists and children.
The Radsport Festival will feature $21,000 in total prizes, plus a $500 prize to the professional rider who has the best combined result in the Mt. Penn Hill Climb and the West Reading Twilight Criterium.
Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn National Gaming based in Wyomissing and a principal sponsor, said the festival will “provide a positive ripple effect across our community.”
West Reading’s many taverns and restaurants are expected to do a brisk business as people go to watch riders barrel down Penn Avenue. The event will raise money for the Reading Recreation Commission and other community organizations.
Other sponsors include the Reading Eagle, Pretzel City Productions, WEEU and Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust.
"We are very excited to be working with the Reading Recreation Commission to bring professional bike racing to town this September," Radsport organizer Kacey Lloyd said in a statement.
“… Bringing high-level, high-speed racing to this community is a natural fit. We’re grateful for the chance to bring this fun community event to Reading and to support Reading Recreation’s important work.”
Daphne E. Klahr, executive director, Reading Recreation Commission, said not only do the agency’s youth programs benefit from the event, but it helps promote Reading as a thriving cycling community.
Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. Sept. 8, with a parade and ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Lower Alsace Township, to celebrate the completion of the Skyline Drive project.
On Sept. 9, the West Reading Twilight Criterium, which will be held under lights, will send athletes around three high-speed corners and through a roundabout for their chance to win a portion of the $10,000 prize purse for each race. The finish line will be on Penn Avenue at 6th Street.