The sweat on bicyclist Pat Cunnane's brow had long since dried by the time a laughing bus rider, Jill Minick, crossed the finish line of a commuter race this morning.

"You beat me!" she teased. "That's not fair!"

The fourth annual race, sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, began at 8 a.m. at 45th and Spruce Streets, with the cyclist, transit rider and a car driver headed for City Hall.

They figured the cyclist would win, and they figured it would take about 15 minutes.

Still, Cunnane, president of Fuji Bicycles, took everyone by surprise as he zipped up to the finish line in front of the Municipal Services Building a mere 10 minutes and 49 seconds later.

The coalition (http://www.bicyclecoalition.org/) each year hopes cyclist comes in first - thereby supporting its assertion that two wheels are better than four (or more), at least for commutes of four miles or less.

The event is part of a national Bike-to-Work Week.

According to the coalition's Alex Doty, the cyclist is always the hands-down winner in sparing the city traffic congestion and air pollution.

And the cyclist gains by getting some exercise and (presumably) enjoying the ride.

"When I bicycle commute, it changes a part of the day that is usually one of tedium and turns it into something that is joyful," Doty said. "I miss it when I don't do it. I don't think many other people miss their commutes."

The car driver, Heather Kemp, the PhillyCarShare Marketing Project Manager, pulled to the curb and leapt from her car at 20 minutes and 10 seconds.

But where was the bus rider? Minick, an event coordinator with the coalition, called in by cell phone not long afterward.

There was a detour on Spruce Street - the same one Kemp had to take, although Cunnane had been able to cycle on through. "I'm a long way away," she said.

Finally, she got off the bus at Broad and Chestnut, and not long after the race committee saw her striding along the sidewalk. She crossed the line at 37 minutes and 17 seconds.

But hey, it hadn't been all bad. She'd been able to sit "most of the way" on the bus, she said. And she had had time to finish reading her Pat Cornwell novel.

Contact staff writer Sandy Bauers at 215-854-5147 or sbauers@phillynews.com.