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Breaking away on two-cheeled chariots

Hundreds of bicyclists speed into Hagerstown for two days of road races

Hundreds of bicyclists speed into Hagerstown for two days of road races

July 04, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Tim Lung has been racing - bicycle racing - for more than 25 years.

He trains daily - counting time rather than miles - trying to get a couple of hours on the road every day.

He's raced for cycling clubs in D.C. and Baltimore and currently rides for a Northern Virginia club, the Prince William Elite Racing Team. He races in "masters" races, races for "old guys" - people who are older than 30, he says.

He'll be racing this weekend in Hagerstown, but he'll have to balance more than his bicycle.

Lung and Joseph Jefferson are co-promoters of The Hagerstown Trust/Clifbar 2-Day Challenge. That's a bicycling race in Hagerstown's North End Saturday, July 6, and on the campus of Hagerstown Community College Sunday, July 7.

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Lung calls his dual role a juggling act.

Antietam Velo Club, part of the local Cumberland Valley Cycling Club, has about 10 members, Lung says. The club promoted races in Hagerstown for several years until 1999. AVC organized state criterium races - short-course races - in Frederick, Md., in 2000 and 2001.

Lung and Jefferson are expecting hundreds of entrants - possibly more than 1,000 - who will be licensed by the U.S. Cycling Federation for the weekend events.

Other than detours around the course - the roads involved will be closed to automotive traffic - what's in Saturday's race for someone who doesn't follow the sport, someone who hasn't even thought about getting on a bicycle for years and years?

From 8 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m., spectators will have a chance to see cycling athletes - some of the best all-around riders in a district made up of Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. - circle a 1.1-mile route on city streets.

The start/finish line is on The Terrace. The course goes around Park Lane, down Oak Hill Avenue, to Charles Street, up Hamilton Lane to Prospect Avenue and back to The Terrace.

Races range from 15 to 30 laps and will take place rain or shine. The course includes five tight right-hand turns and one sweeping uphill left, according to information on the club's Web site at www. antietamveloclub.50megs.com.

The course is short. Spectators can walk the whole way around and see the races from different vantage points, Lung says. The riders will be moving. Speed averages 25 to 30 mph - up to a top speed of about 40 mph.

Mary Ellen Scallion, who lives on The Terrace, a street on the criterium route, recalls bicycle races of past years.

"Oh, I like it," she says. "It's a fun thing. It's fun to sit on your porch and watch them go by."

Her neighbor, Eve McGrory, says she's not a big fan of biking, but she thinks it's interesting and she plans to watch the race on Saturday.

She recalls shouting "Go, Lance" everytime she drove by the motorized cyclist displayed on Eastern Boulevard during Lance Armstrong's rides to Tour de France victories.

"I think it's great these things come to Hagerstown and people promote them," says McGrory.

Sunday's event at Hagerstown Community College will be on a .9-mile loop that circles the campus and has a "drag-race finish," according to the club's Web site. Included are races for masters 50 and older, juniors ages 10 to 14 and 15 to 18, and a couple of women's classes.

Competitors can win medals, merchandise and cash prizes totaling more than $5,000. They also score points toward championships in several categories.

What is racing's appeal?

Jefferson, 37, calls cycle racing "NASCAR on two wheels."

For Lung, it's not so much the speed as the competiveness - the end result of all the training.

Can spectators expect any riders to shout "Look, Ma, no hands"?

Maybe.

The ultimate thing for a rider to be able to do, Lung says, is to breakaway from other racers and sprint to the finish line, crossing it with both arms raised in victory. Sometimes, only an inch separates riders, yet they are skilled enough to achieve that big finish.

Jefferson is a "sprinter," says Lung, who describes himself as a breakaway-type rider.

But riders need more than just speed, he says. "It's a team sport, to a certain extent," Lung says. The individual wins, but with help from teammates. "Tactics are involved," Lung says.




If you go . . .


  • Hagerstown Trust Criterium

    Saturday, July 6, 8 a.m.

    Last race starts at 3:15 p.m.

    Hagerstown's North End

    Start/finish line on The Terrace between Prospect Avenue and Park Lane.

  • Age-graded Criterium Championships

    Sunday, July 7, 8 a.m.

    Last race starts at 3:45 p.m.

    Hagerstown Community College

    11400 Robinwood Drive

    Hagerstown

    Free to spectators



For information, go to the Antietam Velo Club Web site at http://antietamveloclub.50megs.com or call 301-739-5653.

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