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About 250 elite cyclists brave the heat during the Hagerstown Challenge Criterium

July 07, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Winner of Hagerstown's Challenge Criterium Womens Open race on Saturday Sonja Evers, left, turns the corner at Hamilton Lane and Charles St.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

The morning sun is an hour old when a handful of cyclists appear on the streets of Hagerstown’s North End.

They’re doing a bit of reconnaissance — checking out the course that later will test their endurance.

As the neighborhood sleeps, the riders take practice laps, humming down straightaways in a streak of color and a burst of adrenaline.

Even before the race begins, there are spills, sometimes so bad you can hear them — the wrenching shriek of metal on concrete.

It’s only a sampling of what lies ahead.

Cycling isn’t for the faint of heart.

Instead, it’s for those who thrive on riding in packs, wheel to wheel, hurtling over bumps and molding their bodies to tight hairpin turns.

Forget extreme summer temperatures or suffocating humidity.

This is life in the fast lane.

This is the world of competitive cycling and there are no excuses. Players come to win.

The streets surrounding Oswald Park on Prospect Avenue took on a colorful atmosphere Saturday as the Antietam Velo Club/Team Hagerstown-Washington County hosted the annual Hagerstown Challenge Criterium.

About 250 elite cyclists from the mid-Atlantic region participated in the event, which was held on a 0.8-mile circuit and included four 90-degree right turns, said Joe Jefferson, a member of Antietam Velo and one of the event organizers.

The race route looped around portions of Prospect Avenue, Oak Hill Avenue, Charles Street, Hamilton Lane and Forest Drive.

“This was the location of the first-ever challenge, held more than 20 years ago,” Jefferson said. “We’ve had other courses over the years. But we decided to go back to the original this time around.”

Saturday’s criterium consisted of seven races, staged for various skill and age levels.

Participants competed for medals, cash and merchandise prizes.

Despite predictions of record-breaking heat, Jefferson said turnout for the event was typical of past criteriums.

“But the weather did affect some aspects of the event,” he added. “For instance, races involving older riders were held early and were strategically planned for all levels of competition.”

Jefferson said riders also were allowed and encouraged to carry water on their bikes, especially those who would be participating in the long-distance races.

Mark Youngblood, a member of the Antietam Velo Club, competed in the first race, which featured 14 laps and lasted about 30 minutes.

While conceding that it was hot, the Hagerstown resident said he would rather compete in the summer than winter.

“At least I can feel my hands and feet,” he said.

Youngblood said he carried a water bottle on his bike, “but having to concentrate on the course, with railroad tracks, hard rights, lots of intervals of accelerating and slowing down, I didn’t have time to get a drink.”

While he didn’t win his race, Youngblood said he met his goal.

“I finished and I didn’t leave any skin on the road,” he said.

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Hagerstown Challenge Criterium results

The following are the results from Saturday’s Hagerstown Challenge Criterium bicycle races:

Masters 45 and older

First place — Ramon Benitez, 48, Glenwood, Md.

Second place — Mike Brown, 50, Chester, Md.

Third place — David Osborne, 49, Olney, Md.

Men 35 and older 3/4

First place — Patrick Gellineau, 61, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Second place — Harry Fang, 48, Chevy Chase, Md.

Third place — Chas Offutt, 38, Washington, D.C.

Senior I/II/III

First place — Dave Fuentes, 39, Herndon, Va.

Second place — Donald Brew Jr., 30, Temple Hills, Md.

Third place — Ryan McKinney, 33, Reston, Va.

Senior III/IV

First place — Paul Varga, 43, Silver Spring, Md.

Second place — Christopher Dougherty, 35, Washington, D.C.

Third place — Victor Pradel, 39, Potomac, Md.

Senior IV/V

First place — Matt McLoone, 26, Washington, D.C.

Second place — Tyler Waldron, 28, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Third place — Scott Mearns, 44, Arlington, Va.

Senior V

First place — Matt McLoone, 26, Washington, D.C.

Second place — William King, 28, Hagerstown

Third place — Douglas Keith, 43, Arlington, Va.

Women’s open

First place — Sonja Evers, 46, Washington, D.C.

Second place — Dori Buckethal, 34, Glenwood, Md.

Third place — Janelle Hubbard, 46, Centreville, Va.

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