What is the Mayanunk Wall? A half-mile climb with a punishing 17-percent grade and a raucous party.
During the Philly race, the riders will face the (in)famous Mayanunk Wall 10 times for the men and 4 times for the women, and each time, the impact is a bit more brutal, and the crowds bigger and noisier.
The Wall is in the middle of a neighborhood of young families and students who every year hold a street party while watching the race. Loud and live music, bells, and cheers great all riders fighting their way up.
“If you’ve ever been on the Manayunk Wall on the last two laps of the race, it’s just a wall of sound the entire way up.” said 2005 winner Chris Wherry (Toyota-United).
“It gives you goose bumps to go up the wall and have everyone cheer for you.” said defending champion Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road)
“It’s like the World’s!” said Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis) to cyclingnews in 2007. “The amount of drunk people on the climb was awesome! You can’t really concentrate going up the hill because there are so many girls hanging over the barriers drunk! Every lap getting bigger and bigger!”
The bottom of the Wall begins at Main Street and Levering Street, proceeds on the well-worn cobblestone Cresson Street, and then turns back onto Levering Street. The steepest section, a 17-percent grade, begins just after the slight left turn where it becomes Lyceum Age and ends at the intersection with Fleming street.
The Fall from the Wall begins at the right turn off Lyceum Avenue onto Pechin Street.
And to top it off, highs of 97°F (36°C) and humidity over 50% are expected on Sunday. Riders will definitely be taking advantage of the water sprinkler set up for the cyclists by the O’Brien’s Water Hole, a residential house on Lyceum Avenue.
While the race has not been won by attacks on the wall, it certainly has been lost. Attacks and counter-attacks break legs, sap energy and lap after lap, riders fall from the wall, never rejoin the dwindling field, and think ‘maybe next year’.
Wish I was there.