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Race challenges cyclists

July 09, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HAGERSTOWN

The blood spilled Saturday morning along the leafy route of the Hagerstown Challenge Criterium cycling race likely didn't come as a surprise to Cumberland Valley Cycling Club President Richard "Dick" Cushwa.

"Bicycle racers really have to enjoy pain," Cushwa said about an hour before several cyclists collided into one another in the third of eight races presented by the club's racing branch, the Antietam Velo Club.

"Everybody gets a little crazy on the last lap," said Steve Powell, who sought medical treatment for a possible dislocated shoulder after the New York City man tumbled onto Woodland Way with at least five other cyclists.

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Powell fared better than another unidentified cyclist, who yelled in apparent agony and remained on the pavement until medics put him on a stretcher and took him to the hospital. Officials speculated he fractured his left leg.

Most of the others toppled were able to remount their bicycles to complete a 1.1-kilometer route comprised of technical turns and fast straightaways.

Cordoned off by the Hagerstown Police Department, cycling club members assisted neighboring residents in safely exiting their driveways along a route that used parts of Woodland Way, Park Lane, The Terrace and West Irvin Avenue.

Doug Owens of Arlington, Va., managed to avoid the pileup, which halted the race for about 15 minutes.

The 33-year-old labor economist had "broken away" from the pack and managed to escape unscathed, said his wife, Kerry.

Neighborhood residents, including Nelson Hartman Jr. and his 3-year-old son, Jacob, enjoyed the spectacle of Hagerstown's own cycling competition from their front lawn at the intersection of Woodland Way and Park Lane, the first turn of the race route.

"He couldn't wait," Hartman said of his son's excitement. "He was talking about it all day yesterday."

Ranked in the top 25 of his cycling division last season, Tim Lung said the Hagerstown Challenge Criterium is especially meaningful.

"It's nice that it's in my hometown," said Lung, a Hagerstown resident who has been racing for more than 30 years.

A member of the Antietam Velo Club, Lung said the only drawback for him Saturday was his dual role in promoting the event and competing.

"Other guys in my race still could be in bed," said Lung, who woke up in the early-morning hours to help event coordinator Joseph L. Jefferson stage the competition.

The first race began at 8 a.m., with the last expected to finish about 5 p.m.

"You really can't enjoy your own race," said Lung, smiling.

About 200 cyclists preregistered for the event, but Cushwa expected that number to increase to nearly 300 by the end of the day.

"It's a beautiful neighborhood to have the race in," Cushwa said. "It showcases the town well."

Cumberland Valley Cycling Club member Joyce Martin was perfectly content to watch the competitors whiz by her driveway-monitoring post off West Irvin Avenue.

"I can't imagine going that fast and the amount of time they put into training," said Martin, an avid leisure bike rider who averages about 30 miles a week on her Trek hybrid.

"Maybe I'll (still) get a ride in today," she said.

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