2005-10-06 / Front Page

October holiday is all about bicycling around the island

By Donna K. Drago

If Christopher Columbus was still alive to celebrate his annual holiday, he’d be doing it in a colorful spandex suit, a helmet, and on two wheels. Instead of a Nina or a Pinta, he’d have a Mongoose or a Schwinn.

For 30 years now, Jamestown has celebrated Columbus Day with the annual Rotary Club bicycle race, which will be held on this Monday, Oct. 10.

Race organizer Steve Mecca, who has done the job for his 14member club for the past nine years, said the success of the race is “due to the town and the people of Jamestown.” Mecca said that it takes between 105 and 110 volunteers to monitor roadways and intersections, take registrations, and perform numerous other tasks that island residents turn out for each year.

Mecca said that the Rotary’s Jamestown Classic has become the largest bicycle road race in Rhode Island, and that this year some 700 riders — both professional and novices — are scheduled to compete in one of three course options.

The children’s race will start Saturday at 8:30 a.m. from the Community Center and traverse a short course up the hill on Walcott, turn right onto High Street, left onto Howland Avenue, left onto Hamilton Avenue, and go back down the hill to the finish line at the Community Center.

At 9:30 a new race will be run — on unicycles! Mecca said that he has no idea how many unicyclers will show up for the unusual race. “We’ll find out when they get here,” he said, noting that he is aware of several unicycle clubs in the region so the turnout might be high. The unicyclers will be using the same course as the children’s race, Mecca noted.

Adult cyclists can opt for either the BankNewport ‘Round the Island Bike Race, which will be on a 19.1 mile course that circumnavigates the island once, starting and ending at the Community Center, Mecca said. There are prize categories for adult men and women from ages 13 to 70 and older, he added.

At 11:30 a.m., in sequenced starts, some the best racers from the Northeast and beyond will compete in the United States Cycling Federation sanctioned series in several categories. These racers will circle the island course three times for a total of more than 57 miles, Mecca said.

In prior years, the Jamestown Rotary Club has used the proceeds for both small local projects and large international ones, Mecca said.

Last year, for example, the club gave $1,000 to the Jamestown Fire Department, $500 to the Jamestown Community Chorus, and $1,500 to the local Boy Scout troop. They also were able to purchase 282 brand new wheelchairs that were delivered by the VOSH mission group to Nicaragua during their annual January medical mission there. This year the goal is to purchase another 282 wheelchairs for Nicaragua. “It’s amazing how much a little club can do,” Mecca said.

Registrations can be done online by downloading the form from the Web site at www.jamestownclassic.org or on-site at the Community Center beginning at 7 a.m.

Fees are $25 for adult cyclists or unicyclists, $10 for children, and $50 for tan

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