The scenic course begins near the gleaming high-rises of Center City, rolls up tree-line Kelly Drive, past Manayunk's boutiques and trendy eateries, up The Wall, and back toward Center City. The finish line sits on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with the Greek Revival Philadelphia Museum of Art looming in the background.
Since the international riders arrived in Philadelphia, with the race beginning in 1985, recreational biking has become wildly popular in the region as well as across the state. Nearly 1,000 miles of former railroad lines in Pennsylvania have been converted to open trails that are great for lazy-day biking with the kids in tow.
The smooth, 37-mile, crushed limestone Allegheny Highlands Trail in the Laurel Highlands (part of the Great Allegheny Passage), for example, meanders through thick woods and over steel train trestles and wooden bridges. The 60-mile Pine Creek Trail in Tioga County offers stunning views of the Pine Creek Gorge - the rolling green mountains that have an 800-foot drop in some areas. Many of the tourist-friendly trails have cafes, bathroom facilities, nearby bed and breakfasts and campgrounds.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort opens their high-speed ski lift to mountain bikers so they can shuttle their wheels to the peak and then fly down the mile-long stretch through dense forest and over tabletop jumps. From Michaux State Forest an hour southwest of Harrisburg to Bald Eagle State Park in north central Pennsylvania, there are expert-level single-track trails that wind past waterfalls, over old logging roads and along the edge of steep-drop ridges. Some sections are so difficult that it's a challenge just to stay upright.