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Bike race comes to Martinsburg

August 17, 2000

Bike race comes to Martinsburg



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photos: RICDUGAN / staff photographer

ridersMARTINSBURG, W.Va. - High-speed bikes and slow-speed trikes replaced the more traditional four-wheeled vehicles on downtown streets Wednesday night.

Criterium America brought the last of its 13-day, 10-race schedule of professional bicycling to a conclusion for the third year in the city.

"This is a very high-quality field" of 60 racers who started the event, said Don Moxley of Granville, Ohio, chief referee for the event. "Many of the people here are on their way up or on their way down."On his way up Wednesday night was Michael Johnson of West Hills, Calif., who finished the 35 laps around the 1.1 mile course barely ahead of Jonathan Wirsing of Glen Allen, Va.

The duo dueled for most of the latter stages of the race, finishing well ahead of the rest of the pack, led by third-place finisher Brice Jones of Port Smith, Ark.

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"It was fast," said Johnson. "I hit that last corner with so much speed I thought I was going to slide into one of those brick pots."

Dripping with sweat and champagne, Johnson said he liked the course, although he also likes courses with more hills than this one.

Criterium is a French word that means "circuit," Moxley said.

Sunset ridersThis race used an enclosed circuit with traffic prohibited in the downtown course. Riders travel about 30-35 miles per hour and Moxley said the races are "spectator friendly" because riders fly past streets lined with those watching the race.

Moxley said this kind of racing is sometimes called "The NASCAR racing for bicycles. Many racers are sponsored.

The overall winner for the past 10 races was Ivan Dominguez, nicknamed the "Cuban Missile," who defected from Cuba during the Pan America games two years ago. He won $1,000 for the overall competition. Johnson took home $700 for his first-place finish Wednesday.

Youngsters and novice adults also rode a one-block course before the main event, as did about 15 adults riding tricycles.

The winner was Buzzzz Poland - "there are four z's in it," he said - who rode a big antique tricycle that had been used in a General Motors plant to deliver goods. He is general manager of Union Sales Dodge.

An even older and much smaller tricycle was ridden by state Del. Vicki Douglas, D-Berkeley. She was loaned her transportation by former County Commissioner Jim Smith, who restores old tractors. He patched together the tricycle for her, she said.

"I didn't know which of us was going to fall apart first," she said after finishing the one-block ride.

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