Pedal to the pavement

July 10, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE


A bookie betting on the Mid-Atlantic Cycling Championship bicycle races Saturday morning could have made a bundle if he listened to Joseph Jefferson predict the outcome of the women's elite race.

Cody Andrews of Burke, Va., had broken out of the pack of women racers early in the 25-lap race over the 0.6-mile-long course.

She was holding a 12-second lead by the eighth lap and seemed, to any novice on the sidelines, that she was a shoo-in to win.


"She's a favorite, but I don't think she can win," Jefferson said as he eyed the pack coming up behind her. "The favorites are still in the pack. They're watching each other and allowing her (Andrews) to get a lead. She'll try to get enough of a lead to win, but she won't."

Andrews had commanded a 17-second lead by the ninth lap.

Andrews got a flat tire, pulled out, had her wheel replaced and got back in the race. Rules give riders free laps during breakdowns and allow them to get back in in the same position they were in before they pulled out.

"It's like NASCAR," Jefferson said.

Andrews had an 11-second lead on the 18th lap. She dropped back by a second on the 19th, but still was comfortably ahead.

"I can guarantee Cody won't win," said Jefferson, who was calling the race over the microphone.

When the pace car rounded the corner at the intersection of Woodland Way and Hillcrest Road heading toward the finish line on the 20th lap, no one was out front. Somewhere over the course, Andrews had faded into the pack.

"She got caught. She's in the field," Jefferson said, his prediction coming true.

Jenette Williams, 34, of Proctorville, Ohio, came in first, followed in a close second place by Beth Leasure of St. James.

Williams, who teaches graphic design at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., has been bicycle racing for six years.

She praised her teammates for her win.

"They're stronger than I am, but I have more speed at the finish," Williams said.

Janelle Hubbard, 38, of Centreville, Va., came in "sixth or seventh," she said.

"I would liked to have finished a little closer up front, but it's a very technical course with lots of turns," she said.

Hubbard said most women racers are in their 30s.

Saturday's races were organized for the sixth time by the Antietam Velo Club, which is directed by Jefferson. The club is sponsored by State Farm Insurance.

Many teams racing Saturday had corporate sponsors. Several were professional. There also were individual racers, Jefferson said.

About 250 riders, mostly from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C., competed Saturday. Races were divided according to ability, including beginner, novice, intermediate and elite. Men and women raced.

The average speed around the course is 25 to 30 mph, Jefferson said. The cost of an average racing bike is $3,000.

The first race started at 8 a.m. By 11 a.m., there already had been four crashes. The riders only had minor scrapes, he said.

Tony and Kelly Meyer had lodged themselves into lawn chairs in the shade at the corner of Hillcrest Road and Woodland Way, one of the more technical turns in the race.

"We're hanging here. There could be a good wreck," Tony Meyers said. He admitted to having a NASCAR mentality, but said he liked the color and pageantry, too.

John Williamson of The Terrace got his Saturday chores done early so he could sit on his front lawn and watch the cyclists.

"They're competitive high-end riders. It's fun to watch them," Williamson said. "It's all about pacing. Somebody sets the pace and the others follow until they get to the end, then someone breaks out."

Williamson, 53, rides a bicycle.

"I did a century (100 miles) three years ago," he said.

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