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Bicycle racers take it to the streets

July 26, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

Mark Nicoll came to Hagerstown Saturday to "warm up'' for next Wednesday's national cycling championships in Altoona, Pa.

"Hagerstown is a challenging course,'' Nicoll said.

The 22-year-old from Indiana, Pa., was one of about 250 bicycle racers who participated in the Hagerstown Challenge Criterium that wheeled its way through Hagerstown's North End on Saturday.

Tim Lung of the sponsoring Antietam Velo Club, assistant race director, said sign-ups were brisk.

"The only other race this weekend was in Brooklyn, N.Y.,'' Lung said.

The event moved back into the city streets this year after being at Hagerstown Junior College last year, Lung said.

"HJC isn't as challenging,'' Lung said. "There are a couple of hard 90-degree turns on the street that make this a real bike-handler's course, rather than just speed.''

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The annual biking event has been held in Washington County for more than 10 years.

The six races, ranging from 15 to 30 miles, were run between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., with race categories based on the ages and experience of the cyclists, Lung said.

The rectangular course began and ended at Prospect Avenue near The Terrace. From Prospect Avenue, cyclists took right turns onto Oak Hill Avenue, Charles Street and Hamilton Lane, which then fed into Forest Drive, before turning back onto Prospect Avenue.

Hagerstown City and Fire Police spent the entire day rerouting traffic around the affected streets and keeping the races moving smoothly and safely.

"The police were very cooperative,'' Lung said. "And that's the key to successful street races.''

Spectators lined the short six-tenths of a mile course so they could watch the bikers speed by.

"I came to watch my brother,'' said Christine McDonald of Hagerstown. "He belongs to a Pennsylvania club and we came to cheer him on.''

Indeed, 95 percent of the racers were from out of town, Lung said, some coming from New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Joe Jefferson, assistant race director, "called'' most of the races, offering cash and food prizes for the winners of certain designated laps.

"I've been cycling since 1987,'' Jefferson said. "Actually cycling was part of my track and field regimen in school and I really got into it.''

Greg Hyde, a cyclist from Kensington, Md., said this was his first trip to Hagerstown.

Hyde explained that racers - and races - are rated from 1 to 4. Cyclists who are rated a 1 are the best, he said.

"I'm entered in the 3-4 race and the 1-2-3 race,'' Hyde said, showing that he has improved in his years on the circuit.

Lung said $3,000 was distributed to top finishers. A portion of the proceeds will also be given to the Hagerstown Fire Police in recognition of their assistance.

The winners of the races were:

* Brian Walton of Hampstead, Md., the feature 1-2-3 senior race;

* Tammy Duff Miller of New Jersey, the women's race;

* Doug Davies of Edgewood, Md., the masters men's race (over 30 years old);

* Peter Cannell of Blacksburg, Va., the senior men's 3-4 category;

* Gary Anger of Fairfax, Va., the master's men's race (over 40 years old).

The results of the senior men's 4-5 race weren't available, Lung said.

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