Easton Twilight Criterium Kicks Off With A Family Ride (PHOTOS)
With the streets of downtown Easton barricaded and converted into a bicycle racetrack, dozens of families lined up on Saturday to get things done.
The Family Ride was the first event of the day, followed by a full list of professional and amateur cycling races continuing through Saturday night as part of the Easton Twilight Criterium.
“Considering I thought it was going to be underwater, I think it’s really good,” USA Cycling track manager Jeff Moore said of the track conditions. “I think this will be a fun class.”
Flooding from the Lehigh River spread across the roads that would make up the route, from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, before retreating Thursday. With a few power washes and street sweeping, the city erased all memory of the deadly and devastating flooding, at least for one night in this corner of the Lehigh Valley.
Dave Will of Macungie was there on Saturday with a bell to cheer on his son Chase Will, one of three runners in the 4:15 p.m. race representing T-Town – the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Upper Macungie Township. Sisters Hannah Halm, 15, and Jillian Halm, 13, from Bethlehem, joined Chase, 14.
Among their competitors was Max Winn, 12, who drove with his father, Carl, of Dover, New Hampshire. Max was fortunate enough to ride the course ahead of time on Saturday and was amazed at how much the descent down South Sitgreaves Street erased the memory of climbing Northampton Street from Larry Holmes Drive.
Mason and Simone Starke, aged 5 and 3 respectively, who started with the family ride, rode with their father, Zac, and their grandfather, John Starke.
“Get them out of the house for a bit,” Zac said of the family raffle.
Easton helped install some of the barricades used around the course, with race organizers erecting an extensive network of fences with sporadic pauses to allow pedestrian passage through the area.
The city also destroyed the brick crosswalk in the southeast quadrant of Center Square to smoothly pave the crossing and prevent spillage. Either way, the roundabout is due for a complete overhaul, which is expected to be completed in 2022.
Restaurants lining the course have set up additional tables for spectators to grab food and drinks as the races warm up towards the final, the men’s 25 mile pros is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m.
“It’s supposed to be one of the most dramatic turns here,” Sette Luna owner Josh Palmer said outside a pop-up bar near Ferry Street in South Sitgreaves Street.
Those who step out can join in the cheers with a free Cowbell donated by event sponsor Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Saturday’s criterium opens the 77th annual three-day Somerville Tour, the oldest cycling race in the country, which was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
Organizers said more than 300 cyclists from more than 25 countries were to take part in the tour.
Organizers say to monitor race results on usacycling.org.
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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at [email protected].