By Joe Barron
Pedal power ruled Lancaster Avenue Sunday at the second annual Main Line Bike Race in Ardmore.
Ten heats lasting from 30 minutes to an hour were run between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., bringing racers from across the region and beyond to the fast, 1-mile loop that led down Ardmore Avenue and back to Lancaster via Rittenhouse Place.
Competition levels rose throughout the day, until, in the last showdown, elite cyclists completed up to 25 laps in the time allotted.
“They work hard,” said Deputy Chief Albert Davey of Narberth Ambulance. “Those speeds are upwards of 30, 35 miles per hour. It’s crazy.”
Sponsored by Independence Blue Cross and organized by the Trek bicycle shop, the race benefits the ambulance association, which hoped to raise between $30,000 and $40,000 from the event, after expenses.
“An ambulance costs two hundred thousand dollars,” Davey said. “The idea is if we run this for five years, maybe we can pay for one.”
Narberth officials were not the only ones hoping to benefit from the race, however. For Jim Petrucci, owner of JPM Catering and Market, the event means more potential shoppers walking along Lancaster Avenue and drivers slowing down to see what the town has to offer.
To that end, the day also featured a classic auto show, a children’s activity area, food vendors, live music and a beer garden.
“That’s a special thing, to be able to shut down Lancaster Ave, and we’d like to see it continue,” Petrucci said. “People just drive by. This gets them to slow down.”
The strategy appeared to be paying off, at least for JPM. Petrucci’s little shop, which is usually closed Sundays, was open for business during the race. As a pair employees stood out front, offering samples of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies to passersby, cyclists wondered in for a bite to eat after their races.
One of those customers was Mimi Harnish, who competed in the women’s intermediate race ― a step up from beginners’ class she signed up for last year. Harnish rode to Ardmore from her home in Manayunk and planned ride back while her husband and their small daughter took the train.
She didn’t mention how she placed in her event, but it was apparent winning the $250 purse wasn’t her primary objective in pedaling out to the ‘burbs.
“It’s just a really special day,” she said. “I would do this race every year.”