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Scranton Tomorrow Is Gearing Up for August 28
Summer is in full swing in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and that means it’s prime time for bicyclists to head to their favorite trails and city streets. It’s also the perfect time to bring back the Electric City Classic (ECC) Hill Climb!
A project of Scranton Tomorrow made possible in part with support from DiscoverNEPA, the ECC Hill Climb debuted in Scranton in 2019 as part of the Electric City Classic. Athletes and race enthusiasts enjoyed a two-day event featuring international criterium racing in downtown Scranton on Saturday, followed by the ECC Hill Climb on Olive Street on Sunday. Due to COVID-19, the event was canceled in 2020.
Although it wasn’t feasible to host the criterium in downtown Scranton this year, we are pleased to announce the 2021 ECC Hill Climb is scheduled for Saturday, August 28, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Olive Street (between Prescott and Taylor Avenues) in the Hill Section of Scranton.
Open to bicyclists of all skill levels, the unique location of the race poses the ultimate test for professional and amateur athletes. Olive Street is a very steep hill with its upper section still covered in brick—a reminder of the street’s long history. Conquering the hill is quite a challenge for riders, and incredibly fun for spectators to watch. Don’t forget to bring your cowbells if you’re planning to cheer them on!
To celebrate the upcoming race, we recently caught up with our partners at Long Tail Creative, Gabe and Kacey Lloyd, who served as the architects of the 2019 event. We’re talking all things cycling as we gear up for another amazing ride up Olive Street.
Tell us about Long Tail Creative.
Long Tail Creative is an event marketing and production company with expertise in sporting events. We’ve had the opportunity to be on the staff of the world’s largest fixed-gear criterium, the Red Hook Crit, where we worked in Brooklyn, London, Barcelona and Milan. Kacey has been the Race Director for UCI professional races at the world-famous Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. Other events include the Reading Radsport Festival, Fifth Street Cross, Got the Nerve Triathlon and Runner’s World Half-Marathon.
How does your past experience as internationally competitive athletes inform the events you plan today?
Traveling the world to compete has taught us that successful events are both athletically challenging and entertaining for spectators. We strive to create courses and experiences for athletes that they enjoy enough to tell their friends to come back the following year. In turn, that helps us build an atmosphere that is a memorable experience for spectators because the positive energy of both groups feeds on itself.
What makes Scranton and surrounding communities a great place for cycling?
The downtown street grid allows us to create one of the most unique and challenging criterium courses on the national circuit! Athletes still comment on the 2019 event with excitement! The unique, 10-turn course offers overlapping spectator opportunities as well. The stunning architecture in downtown Scranton adds to the dynamic atmosphere. We love the bars and restaurants along the course where people can hang out to cheer. The historic bricks at the top of Olive Street gave us an irresistible course for a hill climb competition. With the exposed and uneven brick surface in a charming neighborhood, any cyclist who follows the European spring classics will appreciate that the hill climb has a European feel.
What inspired the course design for the ECC Hill Climb?
At the Reading Radsport Festival, we pair a criterium with a hill climb for several reasons, but it ultimately proved to be a successful model for offering pros and locals a way to participate. Gabe has been the commentator for the Red Bull Bay Climb in San Francisco for a few years. He saw how well-received that event is for locals, and the similar structure to some events on the velodrome in Trexlertown. When we scouted Scranton, Aaron McNany [owner of Veloce, a bicycle shop in downtown Scranton] told us about some of the cobbled sections in town. Olive Street had all the exemplary aspects. It’s short, but long enough to be a racecourse. It has three “steps,” and the cobbles at the top make for an epic finishing kick. Blend the competitive elements of Radsport, Red Bull and the velodrome on the Olive Street course, and you have an entirely unique and exciting event!
What can you tell us about this year’s event?
We are also thrilled to be bringing the Hill Climb back this year! We plan to build upon the inaugural Hill Climb from 2019 and add some fun new categories to really get the local community involved. We are adding running, kid’s events and even a wheelbarrow challenge that is bound to be entertaining. After the past year, everyone’s itching for safe social activities, and we look forward to a fun and safe outdoor event that people can enjoy participating in or spectating.