Cyclists zoom through the heart of Hagerstown for the start of 2011 Tour of Washington County

June 17, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Female cyclists make the turn at Hood Street onto Summit Avenue in Hagerstown Friday during the Tour of Washington County bicycle race.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — That periodic bee-like buzz Friday in downtown Hagerstown was the hum of spokes and pedals spinning feverishly and zipping past, kicking off a weekend of local bicycle racing.

Three races were held Friday, starting on South Potomac Street, in the heart of the city, and wrapping along Baltimore Street, Hood Street, Summit Avenue and Washington Street, in a loop of 0.8 of a mile.

A group of men raced first, then women, then a group of top-tier men, the lead-in of the three-day Tour of Washington County.

The tour is in its fourth year — but its first in downtown Hagerstown.

Tim Lung, a co-director of the tour, said Hagerstown Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood contacted the Antietam Velo Club last year and asked if the 2011 Tour of Washington County could start in downtown Hagerstown.

The city scene was a hit with at least two riders in the opening race.

Don Feinberg and Dennis Crockett, both of Frederick, Md., said the course was excellent.

"It's really fun to do a downtown setting like that," Feinberg said.

Feinberg, 53, finished about two-thirds of the race before dropping out. "I just didn't have the legs," he said, noting that he typically rides in age-group races, not those based on skill level, like Friday's were.

Crockett, 54, completed the race as part of the main pack.

As the announcer, their colleague from the Antietam Velo Club, race co-Director Joe Jefferson, kept things lively and spectators informed on South Potomac Street.

He kept tabs on the peloton, or pack, as it trailed three leaders in the opening race. As the pack fell 20 seconds back, then 25, then 30, Jefferson called out the times.

In between bursts of passing riders, Jefferson introduced other bicyclists and passersby around him and cracked jokes.

The music accompanying him contrasted with the outdoor concert down the block at The Maryland Theatre's "Wind Down Friday."

Many spectators stood on the sidewalks and clapped or ate dinner at outdoor tables as racers zoomed past.

Lung said that as of Friday evening, about 250 riders had registered for the weekend of racing.

Jefferson did his best to cheer on two local riders in the opening race, Scott Gordon and Mike Spinnler, both of Antietam Velo Club, the racing branch of the Cumberland Valley Cycling Club.

Lung said Friday's races were preliminary events, giving riders a chance to "stretch out their legs" to prepare for the rest of the weekend.

The Tour of Washington County continues Saturday with a road race in Smithsburg.

Sunday morning, there will be a 19-kilometer time trial race in Boonsboro.

Sunday afternoon, the tour concludes in Williamsport with another criterium, or short-course race on closed-off streets.

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