A 120-mile internationally sanctioned bicycle race on a rainy Saturday, Sept. 12, took 162 riders from 33 teams and 20 countries through Berks County.
Reading 120 Classic of the Americas was the last of seven races of the year for the National Racing Calendar. The race, which resembled certain sections of the Tour de France, consisted of racers from some of the top teams in the world, including from the United States, Guatemala and Mexico.
With tourists in town for the race came an uptick in business for area restaurants and ancillary businesses, according to Brian Kelly, executive director of ReDesign Reading and whose organization was the key force in getting a race of this caliber in Berks County for the first time.
“An internationally sanctioned race exposes Reading to a whole different type of people,” Kelly said.
Reading 120 was a 70-mile loop through 22 municipalities and boroughs of Berks County, ending with five circuits up to the crest of Mount Penn and down through downtown Reading.
According to Kelly, Berks County has a natural terrain that lends itself well to bike racing, which encouraged him and ReDesign Reading to work for eight months to introduce the owner of the race to community representatives and local sponsors that would help run the race.
Although the economic impact of Reading 120 has yet to be analyzed, Kelly said the average tourist to Reading spends about $70 per day between lunch or dinner and making other ancillary purchases.
Kelly said the race will continue each year in Reading, and he said he plans for it to grow each year. He said he hopes that local businesses will use the race as a marketing tool to take advantage of the increased tourism that it will bring.
“It’s a big thing [for Reading businesses] to have exposure to a new audience,” he said.