For the first time in its history, Mercyhurst College will play host to three collegiate cycling races involving from 175 to 300 riders on April 15 and 16 at North East.
The weekend will start the morning of Saturday, April 15, with an individual time trial along Middle and Hirtzel roads. Later that day, the bicyclists will race on Bort Road and follow a modified version of the Welch's Harvest Classic Course. The Sunday event will be a criterium race at Lake Erie Speedway, a good place for spectators to watch the entire race.
Excluding the time trial, the other races are mass start races and are similar to cross-country races in which the riders compete for a team but also for themselves.
Since this is to be such a large event, Mercyhurst Velo, the college’s cycling club, is working with the local community to make the event a success. Lake Erie Alleghany Earth Force, Lake Country Bike, Arrowhead Wine, and Lake Erie Speedway have helped with the race.
Mercyhurst College has had cycling clubs at various times throughout its history. The current club, Mercyhurst Velo, began two years ago. Mercyhurst Velo is a member of USA Cycling and competes in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC). Member schools are from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the New England States and other member schools include Harvard, United States Military Academy, Penn State University, and Slippery Rock.
The ECCC is one of the largest collegiate conferences in the United States. This is the first collegiate race in western Pennsylvania in many years and is part of an ECCC effort to increase support for cycling in the Erie area. All participants are full-time students at their university or college, but the teams vary in size and experience.
More information will be available at the ECCC website, www.eccc-info.com, and at Mercyhurst Velo's website, www.mercyhurstvelo.com.