Conquering the Criterium
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.georgiacycling.net/.
Learn more about the cycling club at its Facebook site or its Yahoo group site.
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.