Bicycle racers ready for major weekend

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bicycle racing fans are in for a treat this weekend. Thestrongest and largest-ever field is expected to compete in theMississippi Gran Prix, starting with tonight’s Bank of BrookhavenCriterium in downtown Brookhaven.

According to Brookhaven Performance Company CEO and racepromoter Richard Barker, nearly 200 bikers from across thesoutheast are expected. Enhancing the four-race weekend aretalented teams from Florida (Cycle 5) and Texas (Compliance Depot),along with the familiar Memphis Motorworks and local favoriteHerring Gas.

“It should be very competitive this year, especially thecriterium,” said Barker. The downtown race starts at 7 p.m. infront of State Bank. The course, featuring 8 turns, is 8/10ths of amile in length. It runs around 30 laps and lasts approximately onehour.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The criterium has been compared to NASCAR race on 2 wheels,using high tech bicycles. Riders and teams shift gears, draft forposition and race at top speeds of over 30 miles per hour.

Brookhaven resident Frank Moak captains the Herring Gas team. Heand Barker spoke to fifth graders at Lipsey Middle School andBrookhaven Academy this week to foster interest and answer numerousquestions about the races.

Barker said four racing bikes will be given away tonight.Students must register and be present to win.

The second leg of the weekend race will be a Saturday morningHuman Performance Co. road race, starting at Heucks Retreat BaptistChurch. It begins at 9:30 and includes a new route though a portionof Wesson and the Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus.

The road race has 5 categories. The 1-3 skill level will race 80miles or three laps on the 25-mile course. There will be shorterdistances for men, women, masters and novice divisions.

A time trial race, sponsored by Cellular South, will be heldSaturday afternoon at Union Hall Baptist Church. It starts at5:30.

On Sunday morning, starting at 7, the Phisotherapy AssociatesCircuit Race will be held on the streets of the Co-Lin campus,covering a mile and 1/2 course.

“We have four wonderful venues for the races,” said Barker. “Thecourses and facilities are much better than many I’ve seen in otherareas of Mississippi and Louisiana.”

Barker said the total prize money has been increased from $8,000to $12,000. The average entry fee per rider is $50.

Race coordinator Jennifer Legg said registration for the racewas ahead of previous years. Some riders will register thisafternoon at the State Bank State Room.

“Everything is in place,” said Legg. “We are ready for therace.”

Numerous volunteers are helping with the race, including theBrookhaven Police Department and the Lincoln County Sheriff’sDepartment. The Wesson Volunteer Fire Department is helping directtraffic for the road race and circuit race.