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Coal Cracker Classic to draw hundreds this Sunday in Tamaqua

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Co-organizer Rich Chwastiak leads a pre-ride tour of visiting riders from Philadelphia and countries of Columbia and Argentina.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Co-organizer Rich Chwastiak leads a pre-ride tour of visiting riders from Philadelphia and countries of Columbia and Argentina.
Published September 05. 2012 05:02PM

"Our race is unique because the course is located on old mine land and open to any age," said co-organizer Rich Chwastiak. "This provides a style of riding that is specific to the coal region." He added that you don't have to have fancy or expensive bikes to participate.

Organizers are expecting for a great turnout of bicycle riders this Sunday during their Reading Anthracite Coal Cracker Classic to be held in the mountains and rolling hills surrounding Tamaqua.

The Coal Cracker Classic is the resurrection of a bike race that was held in Tamaqua six years ago, said key organizers Aaron Berger, Jason Boris and Chwastiak.

"Through the dedication of volunteers and the assistance of many local business and organizations, we have been able to once again bring this unique race back to our community," said Chwastiak. He added that over 200 man-hours were put into the track this year alone.

Last year's race, which incorporated the mid-Atlantic Super Series circuit, largest bike race in the mid-Atlantic region, drew over 350 riders to Tamaqua.

The wooded course will be held on the mountain behind the Tamaqua Bungalow Park, Catawissa Street, on the Reading Anthracite property.

"Each lap is 7 miles in distance and traverses terrain conducive to Northeastern Pennsylvania," said Berger. The beginners course is 7 miles, while the intermediate lap course is 14 miles and the expert lap course is 21 miles.

"Many people describe the beginner/intermediate course to have a "BMX" style feel and flow, as well as being single speed friendly," said Berger. The expert/endurance course contains large elevation gains and tight, twisty ridge top single track tying back into the famous beginner/intermediate lower loop."

The beginner/intermediate/expert courses, set in laps, are predominately single-track and occasionally combine with some double-track. It has a few sections of short climbing, tight twisty single-track, moderate rocky sections combined with some mud and a few fun drops.

Spectators are also encouraged to come in support or to just watch the racers during Tamaqua's largest annual mountain bike race. The race starts at 10 a.m.

Cash prizes will also be rewarded following the races.

"These races are huge. And to think, they are held here in Tamaqua," Boris stated.

Berger, Boris and Chwastiak stressed, "Our goal here at the Coal Cracker Classic is to give each racer the best mountain bike race experience in Northeastern Pennsylvania."

To register for the race, go to Organizers even made a video promoting the event. To see it, go to

Organizers said that more information can be found on their Facebook page (search Coal Cracker Classic) or by emailing them at

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