CHARLES TOWN – Forty-two cyclists have signed up so far for the first-ever Two Cities Criterium through Charles Town and Ranson, and organizer Chris Burns predicts many more riders will register before race day on June 28.
Cyclists tend to wait until the last minute to sign up, said Burns, who is a promoter of Team Integrity Cycling in Charles Town, one of three race teams in the county.
Team Integrity also has a social club, the Panhandle Peddlers. There are about 20 members of Team Integrity who range in age from 14 to senior citizens.
Cycling events pay off for the towns and cities that host them, Burns said. “We have had 21 races so far and towns where we’ve been definitely benefit economically,” he said. “Families and fans come in from all over.”
The June 28 race will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Ranson CVB is a major sponsor of the even, which includes cash prizes and other incentives.
Burns, 37, who is originally from the Baltimore area, came to Jefferson County in 2001 and has been racing for five years. He said he used to be a couch potato.
“I weighed 282 pounds,” he said. “Cycling was the sport that I enjoyed. It’s a good workout. I now weigh 155.”
Burns said the best way to start cycling is to find others to ride with.
Some have complained to the Charles Town City Council about the race. Butch McKinney of McKinney’s Auto Repairs and Towing on George Street told the council that closing George and Washington streets on a Saturday will hurt his and other businesses in the area.
“I was really surprised at the reaction, but I have come to understand it,” Burns said. “I heard that we should consider using bike trails that run from Ranson to Martinsburg, but the trails are only four feet wide. If you have a lot of racers, that’s tight quarters. You can’t do it.”
Details on the race may be found at teamintegritycycling.com.