Hitting the Manayunk wall . . . with a stroller

Spectators watch as riders in the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship make their way through Lemon Hill in Philadelphia, Pa., on June 3, 2012. Alexander Serebryakov, of Team Type 1- Sanofi, won the race. Put in a refer to SPORTS Page 62. DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Spectators watch as riders in the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship make their way through Lemon Hill in Philadelphia, Pa., on June 3, 2012. Alexander Serebryakov, of Team Type 1- Sanofi, won the race. Put in a refer to SPORTS Page 62. DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: June 05, 2012

AS NEARLY 200 cyclists fought their way up the infamous Manayunk Wall at Sunday’s 2012 TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, their moxie was mirrored by Jon Martin of Bluebell, who pushed a double stroller containing his sleeping Marianna, 2, and Anthony, 4, up the adjoining Lyceum Avenue sidewalk.

No clanging cowbells for Martin as he doggedly made his way up the 17-degree incline over broken pavement and the protruding steel legs of race-route barricades, around weaving partygoers and oncoming strollers.

Triumphant at the top of The Wall, Martin basked in the admiration of wife Carmella and best friend Bill Fahringer, who’d pushed his Bailey, 4, up the hill while his sister, Stephanie Fahringer, carried his 2-year-old son, Bryson.

"Every year, we start at Ridge Avenue in Manayunk, do The Wall, then party," Martin said, adding that before their grueling ride up The Wall put his kids to sleep, "they loved seeing all the cop cars."

Anticipating the drunken mayhem of years past, cops occupied every intersection in bunches but reported no arrests during the four-hour race.

The classiest house party on The Wall was at Lyceum Avenue and Fleming Street, where Temple grads Matt Leister, Tom Gallen and Bill Neil had a jazz trio playing on their front porch.

"We wanted to create the antithesis of the usual Manayunk bike-race party," Leister said.

"Not bad for a bunch of 23-year-olds, eh?" Gallen said, enjoying the band’s funky groove. "I’m an engineer. Bill’s an accountant. By mistake, Temple put us on the music floor in the freshman dorm. So we’ve been friends with these guys for five years — Ryan McNeely on guitar, Ben Rivello on bass, Eli Sklarsky on drums. They’ve got a regular gig at MilkBoy.

“The weather’s perfect, I have a cold beer in my hand and there’s a jazz band playing on my porch," he said. "Isn’t this GREAT?"

His neighbor, who identified herself as Ali from Manayunk, remembered that years ago on the night before the race, less-than-sober citizens would race down the hill in bathtubs and sofas on wheels.

"One year, a kid went through a windshield," Ali said. "Of course, he was drunk so he didn’t get hurt. But the police put a stop to the midnight race."

Mark Shearman, a 31-year-old contractor from Manayunk, dressed from horn-helmeted head to brown felt leggings in the homemade Viking outfit he’s worn to the race for years, regretted the lost bad-boy days of the Bathtub Downhill.

"I can understand why you don’t want people pissing on your house," he said. "But now the whole thing is a little lame." He grinned. "But still fun." n

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