At least 140 competitors are slated to take to the streets for this weekend’s Tour of Washington County bike races, which will begin in Hagerstown’s Arts and Entertainment District Friday night.
On Saturday, the racers will move to Smithsburg, and on Sunday, they will be in Williamsport.
“Think of it as NASCAR on two wheels,” said Race Director Joe Jefferson of the Antietam Velo Club, which is hosting the event. “You’re going to be seeing bikes that weigh 14 pounds that cost over $5,000 and $6,000 doing speeds of 35 to 40 mph in downtown Hagerstown — you can’t even get a car to do that fast on these streets because of how tight the turns are.”
Modeled after the Tour de France, the weekend of racing includes road races, time trials and downtown circuit events.
The event’s celebratory start — the Kick-Off Criterium, which is set to take place from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. — marks the third year the weekend of racing will begin in downtown Hagerstown, Jefferson said.
A parade, in which bicyclists not participating in the Criterium are invited to ride, will begin at 5:30 p.m.
The competitive racing will kick off at 6 p.m. with the women’s race, Jefferson said.
The downtown course remains the same as in previous years, beginning at the intersection of Potomac and Antietam streets, and heading south and turning right onto Baltimore Street.
After a right on Hood Street, racers will head up the hill to Summit Avenue, where they will turn right followed by another right turn onto Washington Street. The final turn is a right off Washington Street back onto Potomac Street.
The race will conclude at the intersection of Potomac and Antietam streets, Jefferson said.
As of Friday, 140 competitors were registered for Friday’s festivities, and 240 were registered for the full weekend of racing.
Jefferson said the number of competitors is expected to increase as the weekend draws closer.
Prize winnings for Friday’s events total $5,000, and an additional $8,000 will be awarded throughout the weekend, Jefferson said.
Parking will be prohibited after 5 p.m. Friday on several downtown streets, and traffic will be detoured, according to an Antietam Velo Club news release.
“This is a stage,” Jefferson said. “Cycling in this capacity is a show, and you probably have no bigger stage to display your talents than when you are actually in the center of a city.”
“All cyclists appreciate the support that a city will give them in shutting down the streets to allow them to race,” Jefferson said, noting having an audience adds 2 or 3 mph to a cyclist’s speed. “So a race like this, in downtown Hagerstown, on a Friday night, under the lights, makes this race the best event in our region.”
For cycling spectators, the best part is the event is free, Jefferson said.
Co-sponsored by SRAM, a bicycle component manufacturer, the event typically generates more than $300,000 for the county, Jefferson said.
Local sponsors include the city of Hagerstown, Bowman Hospitality, Conservit Inc., Hagerstown Advance, Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hub City Cycles, State Farm Insurance, Wantz Distributing-Victory Beer, First United Bank, Abeles Investment Consulting Group, Volvo Group, Drs. Toothman and Barra Invisalign, El Paso Mexican Restaurant, 28 South, the Flying Pie Co., The Maryland Theatre and RockStar Energy Drink, according to a release from the club.
More information can be found at www.avcracing.com.
Locations/closures for Tour of Washington County
The following is a list of race locations and road closures for this weekend’s 2013 Tour of Washington County bicycle race:
Beginning Friday at 5 p.m. in Hagerstown, portions of several downtown streets, including Potomac, Antietam, Baltimore, Hood and Washington streets, as well as Summit Avenue, will be closed, and parking will be prohibited.
Residents living on Summit Avenue will be able to park in the gravel parking lot near the Baltimore Street car wash. The lot, which belongs to The Herald-Mail, must be accessed from Summit Avenue. Personnel will be present on the day of the event to assist residents traveling to and from their homes during the races.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday in Smithsburg, portions of Rowe, Old Forge, Unger and Leitersburg/Smithsburg roads will be used for the race.
The race will start at the high school and travel in a clockwise direction. The riders will have access to the entire road. Race officials ask that all oncoming traffic temporarily move to the side of the road until the racers pass.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday in Williamsport, portions of the following roads will be closed to all traffic and parked cars: West Salisbury, South Conococheague, West Frederick, South Commerce, and North and South Vermont streets. South Artizan Street will serve as a primary detour road. Residents of South Vermont Street will need to use West Church Street to exit their properties. Fire police will help direct traffic.