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Lititz rocks Bikes and bands big draw on Sunday
LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Lititz was rockin’ on Sunday as some 300 cyclists whooshed through town and live bands played at the square.
It was the second year for the Rock Lititz Tour, sponsored by Clair Global, Tait Towers and Atomic Design, and organized by Rich Ruoff of the Road Cycling League.
"It was absolutely a better event this year, with a great vibe," said Ruoss, adding that he guessed the spectators had more than doubled to 4,000 over last year’s estimated 2,000. "I loved the energy, it just felt right. And the music added a great beat and rhythm to the event."
Ruoss said that there were at least two Olympians among the racers, and several of the pros getting started in the racing circuit have the potential to make it all the way to the Tour de France.
"It’s a starting point for many of the racers," he said regarding Rock Lititz.
In what appeared to be "faster than a speeding bullet," men and women zoomed past the finish line on East Main Street. There were 11 categories, including kids.
The races started at 11:30 a.m., concluding with the Pro 1/2 Men’s race at 4:40 p.m., with 100 racers traveling through the streets of Lititz and rounding a hair-raising turn at Cedar and Main streets, lined with hay bales to protect riders in case of a wipe-out.
The kids races were a highlight of the day. One little cyclist in the 4-5 year old category rode his bicycle without training wheels, or even pedals. In a tiny bicycle that Fred Flintstone would have been proud to own, the little tike used his sneakered feet to make his way down East Main Street… quite speedily. At one point, his parents and sisters rushed behind him, trying to catch up before he passed the finish line and just kept on going.
It was a fun-filled party scene featuring food trucks loaded with the likes of Italian ice, soft pretzels, falafel pitas, grilled chicken, soups, salads, and crepes filled with veggies, cheese and herbs.
The "cool" tee-shirt designs were seen all over town, worn by cyclists, their families, supporters and Lititz fans. Rock Lititz tee-shirts were grey with white and turquoise graphics.
For the first time ever, Lititz had its open container ban lifted for the day by the PLCB. That meant that an outdoor Biergarten was available for brewed beverage sales, and people relaxed at the outdoor tables in front of the Bulls Head Pub with beer, wine and other drinks.
As Lititz Borough Police Chief William Seace noted, the one-day permit for open containers applied only to the first block of East Main Street. It was the first time the borough had applied for the permit, which helped to make the day more festive for spectators who watched the races and socialized in between.
"It’s a great day for people to get together and spend the day in Lititz, and we have had no problems with the open containers," said Seace. "Everything is going well."
The bicycle route was lined with barriers for safety, decorated with the Rock Lititz logo the whole way. A big finish line banner added to the excitement. The 0.7 mile route started in the middle of the East Main Street block, traveling west to South Broad Street, south on South Broad, east on East Center Street, north on South Cedar Street and back to East Main. When the lead red car appeared, spectators braced for the swift onslaught of racers.
"You can hardly see them, they are going so fast," said Michael Tait of Tait Towers, one of the hosts for Rock Lititz Tour.
Tait was excited about the racing, and about the rock bands performing live on stage at the square. The bands included Colored Vinyl, The Districts and Jeff Thomas’ All-Volunteer Army. The Cat’s Pajamas, an old-school jazz band strolled the block from 4 to 6 p.m., giving music-lovers of all ages something to enjoy.
The Districts, an up-and-coming band of Lititz teens, including Rob Grote, Mark Larson, Connor Jacobus and Braden Lawrence, had the crowd rocking right around the time the Category 4 and Mens 40+ races zipped through town.
"The Rock Lititz race is a great combination of sport and music," said Gene Clair, one of the founding brothers of Clair Global, as he watched the event in front of the Bulls Head.
Chief Seace wasn’t sure how many people attended the event, as crowds grew steadily from late morning through mid-afternoon. Like Ruoss, he estimated that it seemed bigger than last year’s race.
"I don’t think we could have had a better day. The weather is beautiful and everyone is having fun in the coolest town," said borough manager Sue Barry, noting that Rock Lititz is just one of the many events planned to mark Lititz’ selection as the Coolest Small Town in America by Budget Travel readers.
More ROCK LITITZ, page A16