Con­quer­ing the Cri­terium

The Covington News - - Front Page - Tharon Gid­dens tgid­dens@cov­

Bike rid­ing has long been a pas­sion of Brian Lord.

The New­ton County res­i­dent was a BMX racer as a child and he’s now pres­i­dent of the Cov­ing­ton Cony­ers Cy­cling Club.

He’s had to cut back on his rid­ing a bit to ac­com­mo­date daddy duty with his 8-mon­thold twins, Eli and Abi­gail, but he still squeezes in some 70 miles of road­work each week.

He’s also found time to com­pete on Satur­day and Sun­day as the Ge­or­gia Cy­cling Gran Prix comes to New­ton County. In its fifth year, the five-day event be­gan Wed­nes­day at Road Atlanta.

There are events in New­ton County to­day through Sun­day, with about 500 rid­ers ex­pected.

To­day, the Ox­ford Hills Road Race event will fea­ture rac­ers tak­ing on a 10.5-mile loop over rolling ter­rain. It will be­gin with ju­niors rac­ing at 10 a.m. Pros will be­gin at 12:30 p.m. The race be­gins along Byrd Road in Ox­ford.

The best bet for the ca­sual viewer takes place on Satur­day, the Down­town Cov­ing­ton Cri­terium, which will be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The cri­terium will fea­ture bik­ers whirling through down­town at speeds of 30 mph to 35 mph on a .6-mile course, be­gin­ning with ju­nior rid­ers at 2 p.m. and the pros tak­ing to the course about 6:30 p.m. The start race starts and ends on the square, which will be the hub for the event.

“It’s pretty cool to see first­hand,” said Pete Sher­rard, an event or­ga­nizer and as­sis­tant ath­let­ics di­rec­tor at Ox­ford Col­lege.

Sun­day, the event ends

Sun­day, the event ends with the New­ton Cir­cuit Race along a 1.8-mile loop across rolling ter­rain. The race be­gins along Bates Road in the county.

Lord, a west­ern New­ton County res­i­dent, will take part in the cri­terium on Satur­day and the road race on Sun­day.

When he was a child, his fa­ther took him across the South­east to com­pete in BMX events, Lord said. That en­thu­si­asm waned for a while when he turned 16 and got a car, he said. But the in­ter­est was still there, and he got back into bik­ing when the Sum­mer Olympics Games were held in Atlanta in 1996.

“I kind of got the bug again,” he said.

He par­tic­i­pated in moun­tain bik­ing, road rid­ing and road rac­ing.

His wife, Kin­dle, was no rider, but she has come to em­brace his pas­sion for bik­ing, too, tak­ing part in rides and sup­port­ing him in rac­ing.

The Cov­ing­ton Cony­ers Cy­cling Club has about 400 mem­bers, with about 70 ac­tive par­tic­i­pants, he said.

They hold rides on Tues­days, be­gin­ning at the De­pot in Cony­ers, and on Thurs­day evenings, be­gin­ning at the In­ter­na­tional Horse Park. Lord was out Tues­day in Cony­ers on his Can­non­dale Su­per 6 bike.

The club is open to all and has a di­verse mem­ber­ship.

“It’s a real good sub­cul­ture,” he said.

Lord rec­om­mends watch­ing the cri­terium as a good in­tro­duc­tion to the sport.

“It gets peo­ples’ eyes open to what hap­pens,” he said.

The Gran Prix is sanc­tioned by the United States Cy­cling Fed­er­a­tion and of­fers $9,000 in prizes. Learn more at http://www.geor­gia­cy­

Learn more about the cy­cling club at its Face­book site or its Ya­hoo group site.

Tharon Gid­dens / The Cov­ing­ton News

Brian Lord, pres­i­dent of the Cov­ing­ton Cony­ers Cy­cling Club, will be par­tic­pat­ing in Ge­or­gia Cy­cling Grand Prix events in New­ton County, in­clud­ing a cri­terium in down­town Cov­ing­ton.

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