Weekend Forecast: The 13th Annual Tour de Millersburg
We are always sad to see races struggle, in part because we have first-hand experience with staring forlornly at registration numbers on Bikereg — it’s something that we have written about as part the Race Director Diaries on the Journal. But as much as registration numbers are a challenge for every event given the state of USAC membership trends, we’re particularly saddened to see this weekend’s Tour de Millersburg registration numbers lagging behind last year. Now in its 13th year, the Tour de Millersburg is an event that we know and love. I attended my first edition back in 2013 and TBD has had presence at the race every year since - most of these photographs are from the 2015 edition when we had a dozen racers sleeping in a single room at the local church (it made for some interesting stories). More recently, Colin wrote eloquently about Why Cycling Deserves the Tour de Millersburg.
Unfortunately in recent years the Tour de Millersburg and the Reading Radsport Festival have been scheduled on the same early August weekend. We’re not sure what logistical and scheduling challenges preclude the events from moving to separate weekends - there is not much sense in two premier events sharing a schedule conflict when they’re separated by a short 90 minute drive. But sometimes it’s just not possible to rejigger schedules in the way we had to do for CRCA’s Mengoni Grand Prix to avoid a schedule conflict with Cap Regions a few weeks back.
Regardless of the rationale, when a schedule conflict like this exists no one wins - the end result is that both events draw a smaller number of riders from what has been an already shrinking pool of USAC members in recent years. And for Millersburg in particular, we fear for the long-term sustainability of the volunteer run event as registration last year was down to 190 riders after many years drawing in 220+ riders. And as of writing this on Monday night this weekend’s registration was just 105 riders.
Due to a wedding I won’t be at either of these most excellent Pennsylvania events this weekend. Hopefully they’ll both be back in 2020 and ideally on different weekends so that both will feature on my race calendar next year. But if you’re looking for some great bike racing this weekend then both races should be on your radar. Especially if you’re the stage racing type then consider the Tour de Millersburg — the simple truth is you never know how long these races will be around and there are fewer and fewer stage races left on the calendar.
Looking forward to the Tour de Millersburg
A 2017 entry from the TBD Journal:
To understand the Tour de Millersburg you first need to understand the community that organizes and supports the race. Dating to the 1800's Millersburg is town of just over 2,000 people set on the wide banks of the Susquehanna River and a large portion of the community is involved in the race in some form or fashion. From host housing offered by many generous residents (and the local church) to volunteer course marshals and spectators that come out to watch the very challenging criterium it's refreshing to encounter a community that welcomes the lycra clad racers that shut down large swaths of downtown Millersburg.
As for the actual racing the reverse omnium format and sizeable fields from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania guarantee a hard fought weekend of racing. The time trial may be a straight-forward out-and-back route but the criterium is one of the most challenging courses you'll find anywhere with an uphill stretch that leaves many fields in tatters. The Sunday road race wraps things up with a rolling course and a short KOM climb that gives breaks a shot, though the downhill finish is fast finale that requires good positioning and sprinting power.
All things considered the Tour de Millersburg is a course that rewards rouleurs and smart racers, though regardless of success or failure on the bike there is still plenty of fun to be had between post-crit hangs at the community pool (free to racers!), ice cream at William's French Fries ("fresh cut since 1945") and cold beers at the Wooden Nickel. As a team we have had a lot of good times at the Tour of Millersburg and we can't wait to return for another year of all that the race and the town has to offer.
2015 Tour de Millersburg Video
2014 Tour De Millersburg Race Images
In 2014 the team took its second consecutive trip to Millersburg with a collection of racers that continued to grow in size with the appeal of spending a beautiful weekend in Pennsylvania.
2013 Tour de Millersburg Race Report
The 2013 edition of the Tour de Millersburg was the team's first foray at the event and also happens to be the edition where we brought out a medium-format film camera to shoot a few 'old school' shots of the action.
Genre: Stage Race
Format: Time Trial, Criterium, Road Race
Scoring: Reverse Omnium
Location: Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Setting: All three stages of the Tour de Millersburg start in the quaint downtown section of Millersburg, PA, on the East bank of the Susquehanna River. Founded by Daniel Miller in 1807, as of the 2000 census Millersburg had 2,562 residents. Local attractions include the historic Millersburg Ferry, the last surviving ferry that crosses the Susquehanna. In operation since 1825, the ferry landing serves as the docking point for a fleet of locally owned airboats and is a pleasant rest area for cyclists between races. The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art is also located just outside Millersburg, set on 500 acres of land with two art galleries.
Spectators: Created in 2007 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Millersburgs founding, the Tour de Millersburg is particularly notable for its strong community support. In addition to a wealth of volunteers associated with the race, local residents also setup shop in various front yards lining the course to watch the action. The most spectator friendly stage is the Cataldo Muggio Memorial Criterium which sees residents gather across the course with concentrations in corners one and three. Host housing for racers is plentiful, further highlighting the extent to which Millersburg's population supports the race.
History: Stage Two of the Tour de Millersburg, the Cataldo Muggio Memorial Criterium Race is named for Cataldo Tommy Muggio. According to the Tour de Millersburg technical guide, Muggio was born near Naples in 1896 and immigrated to the US via Ellis Island in 1911. Racing in the US with the Century Road Club Association he was recognized as the US record holder for 20 miles (55 minutes, 20 seconds) and 25 miles (68 minutes, 55 seconds). Following the end of his competitive career he promoted bicycling and bikeways and was instrumental in the establishment of a bikeway along Shippen Dam Road.
Racers: Pennsylvania based riders are the largest contingent represented at the Tour de Millersburg, with New York and Virginia also sending a significant number of racers to the event. The 2013 Mens Elite field featured several professional riders and was won by Optums Scott Zwizanksi followed by Michael Chauner of Garneau Quebecor. The Tour de Millersburg also features two womens fields, with the 2013 Elite Womens race won by Kathleen Giles (ABRT) who was also the winner in 2012.
Terrain: The opening stage of the Tour de Millersburg is a flat out and back TT finishing with a slight ascent back into downtown Millersburg. The Criterium that follows is on a four corner course featuring a challenging climb between corners three and four, with corner three being the tightest and most technical on this fast course. Sunday's Road Race takes place on several laps of rolling Pennsylvania countryside with open terrain exposing riders to any crosswinds blowing on race day. A short switchback climb early in each lap serves as KOM points with a downhill drag into downtown Millersburg generating a fast finale.
Notes: Racers receive free entry to the Millersburg Swimming Pool which features tube slides as well as high and low dives.