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Cyclists complete challenge at HCC

July 07, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Since eating classifies as one of Sheba Farrin's hobbies, bicycling takes its place in the living and breathing category.

Farrin, 29, of Washington, D.C., won the gold medal in the Women's Masters Championship in the age 30-39 bracket on the last day of the Hagerstown Trust/Clif Bar 2-day Challenge, which was held at Hagerstown Community College on Sunday.

Farrin, a bike messenger by day, will turn 30 in September, which placed her in the age 30-39 bracket for the event.

The Mid-Atlantic Bicycling Racing Association, which pulls cyclists from Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, held its championship races Sunday based on age, said Joseph Jefferson, co-promoter of the event and director of the Antietam Velo Club - Clif Bar Racing.

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The Antietam Velo Club, a local cycling club, sponsored the weekend competition. Velo is French for "bike."

Jefferson said eight criterium races, or short-coursed races, were held on the roads winding through the community college's campus, a course described on his team's Web site as a ".9 mile loop with three 90-degree turns and a fast sweeping downhill that leads to a drag race sprint."

The finish line was placed across the middle of the road that stretches toward the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center between two of the college's large parking lots.

Jefferson said for cyclists to be competitive in criterium races, they "have to be a cross between a world-class sprinter and a world-class marathoner."

He said 275 to 300 cyclists ranging from ages 10 to 73 competed on Sunday for $200 to $500 in cash, jerseys and medals.

Virginia Beach Velo team member Rob Suydam, 37, of Fredericksburg, Va., pedaled his bicycle on a stationary trainer beneath a small tent before his race.

He said he hoped to win the men's age 30-39 bracket.

"These people aren't here for the cash. We're here for the medals," he said.

Tracy Rankin, 40, of Bethesda, Md., won the gold medal in the Women's Masters Championship in the age 40-49 bracket.

She said she started racing in 1986, but recently took a seven-year sabbatical to raise her son, who now is 6 years old.

Rankin bikes six days a week for about two hours every morning.

"There are so many hours in the day I'd rather ride my bike more than anything else," she said.

Farrin, who has been a bike messenger for the past eight years in Washington. D.C., New York City and San Diego, said there's a "universe" of difference between being a courier and being competitive.

"It's a very tactical sport," she said.

She said her Lateral Stress Velo teammates worked hard to set the pace for the 15 to 20 other competitors in the 16-lap race, making it easier for Farrin to pull out in front.

Rankin, a member of the D.C. Velo team, said racing "is the hardest thing I've ever done, but you get so fit. It's the team support that's kept me in it."

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