Winnie Clowry has witnessed more bike races than most. As a manager and now a Main Street restaurant owner herself, Clowry hosted brunch events to take in the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship as it travelled down Main Street.
For the June 3 race, Clowry will slap on the Spandex, climb the wall and participated in the race's inaugural Bicycling Open.
Organized in tandem by Bicycling Magazine and the Pro Cycling Tour, the open encourages amateurs to complete up to three laps of the international cycling course through Philadelphia.
"What's great about this is we are finally opening up the race for the thousands and thousands of cyclists who have been dying to run the course," Pro Cycling Tour President Dave Chauner said at press conference in Clowry's restaurant, Winnie's LeBus.
From 7 to 10 a.m., riders will roll to start line on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and begin the trek once completed by Lance Armstrong. Like the pros, interested amateurs then will undertake the ride down Kelly Drive, onto Main Street, up the Manayunk Wall, through Roxborough, back past Fairmount Park and down Lemon Hill. Each of the three laps is 14.7 miles.
"For cyclists, it's like if they opened the Indy 500 course, and you could take your sports car out on the track before the pros went on," said Dave Howard, executive editor of Bicycling Magazine.
Riding for Others
Race organizers approached the Manayunk community earlier this year with several ideas to improve the race and make it more economically viable. Though a major idea, moving the race to Saturday, didn't fly, many other elements, like the amateur race, stuck.
Chauner said the Pro Cycling Tour always wanted to incorporate a charitable angle into the race, and this year's partnership puts the pieces in place. Working with Charity of Choice, the bike race can aid multiple groups, aside from one primary charity.
"We have discovered that there is no better way for nonprofits to raise money through an athletic event than the Charity of Choice program," said Hunter Ziesing, executive director for Charity of Choice.
People are encouraged to band together around a specific charity, and raise money for their ride. Representatives from many Philadelphia charities were on hand Monday, including: the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Cradles to Crayons, Cadence Cycling Foundation, Philadelbundance, Ronald McDonald House, Philadelphia 9/11, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Gearing Up, and Neighborhood Bike Works.
Riding the race will cost from $85 to $100, depending on when you sign up. However, if you ride for charity, the fee is $25, with a $250 pledge minimum for charity. Click here for the breakdown.
In the past, Clowry's run marathons, though hasn't formally cycled. Organizers sought a local figure to try the new amateur race, and she felt up to the challenge.
"I've been watching the race go by my restaurant, as a manager and owner, since 1994. I'm going to give it a shot," she said.
Cycling pro Michael Chauner of Team ProAir-HFA will train Clowry.
"Starting tomorrow, it's up the wall once a day," he said.
Winnie's LeBus is known for its bike race brunch. In 2012, she might arrive late.
"Someone's going to have to work for me then," Clowry said.
Visit the Pro Cycling Tour's website for registration info.