By John Chambless

Staff Writer

Cyclists know that Chester County is becoming a top destination, and the Chesco Grand Prix is a major annual showcase. 

The ten-day festival began July 4, and continues July 10 in Eagle, July 11 in Phoenixville, July 12 in Oxford, and July 13 in Kennett Square. The finale is the Kinetic Chesco Tour, where riders can choose their own paths to explore the scenic roads of Chester County.

Towns selected for the competitive cycling events, called criteriums, make an evening out of it, with four or five hours of attractions including youth races, music, professional announcing and a chance to cheer on the riders. The races also publicize the National Velodrome, an indoor cycling track being planned for Coatesville.

The 2013 Chesco Grand Prix is sanctioned by USA Cycling, the national governing body for the sport of competitive cycling. Although individual riders can enter, the Chesco Grand Prix is primarily a team competition designed to support and promote teams and their sponsors.

This weekend's schedule includes:

Wednesday, July 10 -- Eagle criteriums from 5 to 9 p.m.;

Thursday, July 11 -- Phoenixville criteriums from 5 to 9 p.m.;

Friday, July 12 -- Oxford criteriums from 5 to 9 p.m.;

Saturday, July 13 -- Kennett Square criteriums series final from 3 to 8 p.m.;

Sunday, July 14 -- Kinetic Chesco Tour,  public rides throughout Chester County.

In Oxford on July 12, the race start and finish line is at 18 S. Third St.

At 5 p.m., there will be an 18-mile (25 lap) race for amateurs 45 and older, followed by 100-yard races for ages 4 to 5 and 6 to 7. There's a 21-mile (30 lap) race for amateurs at 6 p.m., followed by races for ages 8 and 9 (200 yards) and ages 10 to 12 (one lap). A celebrity race is slated at 7 p.m., with opening ceremonies for the feature race at 7:10 p.m. That race will be 40 miles (58 laps). The awards presentation is slated for 8:45 p.m.

In Kennett Square on July 13, the race start and finish line is at 101 E. State St.

At 3:45 and 4:35 p.m., there will be races for amateur cyclists of 20 miles (25 laps). Kids ages 4 and 5 and ages 6 and 7 will race for 100 yards at 5:30 and 5:35 p.m. Amateur riders can race for 25 miles (32 laps) at 5:40 p.m., with races for kids ages 8 and 9 (200 yards) and kids ages 10 to 12 (one lap) at 6:40 and 6:45 p.m. The celebrity race is at 6:50 p.m., followed by opening cermonies for the feature race at 7:10 p.m. That race will be 40 miles (50 laps). The awards presentation is slated for 8:45 p.m.

On July 14, the Kinetic Chesco Tour is a ride for all cyclists held as the culmination of the Chesco Grand Prix. Participants can choose a 20-mile, 40-mile or 75-mile route throughout the  back roads and horse country of Chester County. It is not a race. The routes will be marked and fully stocked rest stops will be available. The ride requires advanced registration, and the fee is $35. 
The rides begin at 7:30 a.m. at Kinetic Physical Therapy (Pottstown Pike and Park Road, Chester Springs, Pa.). Lunch will be served at the start/finish line. For more information about all the events, as well as registration information, visit www.chescograndprix.com, or call 610-383-9700.