2007-10-04 / News

New format for Rotary bicycle event wheeled out

By Sam Bari

The 2006 Jamestown Classic gets under way. Photo by Andrea vonHohenleiten The 2006 Jamestown Classic gets under way. Photo by Andrea vonHohenleiten The 32nd annual Jamestown Classic, organized by the Rotary Club, has been split into two programs for this year. The 'Round the Island Bike Race, which is for USCF licensed and professional riders, will take place on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 8, as usual.

New for 2007 is the "Rides and Strides for Humanity" program to be held on Sunday, Oct. 7, starting at Ft. Getty. Sponsored participants can walk, run, bicycle, skateboard, or ride a kick-scooter for their choice of several charitable and humanitarian projects. Unicycle, tandem, and hand-cycle races will be included in this program. These events are for the conditioned athlete to the person who takes leisurely walks with the dog.

"We eliminated the citizens race on Columbus Day and added more categories to the USCF novice races," said Race Committee Chairman Steve Mecca. "By splitting the event into two days, we addressed some safety issues, and more not-so-serious athletes will be encouraged to participate in a variety of events where they'll feel more comfortable and not be intimidated by the professionals. I think this will make the entire weekend more fun for everybody," Mecca said.

In the 'Round the Island Bike Race' for USCF licensed and professional riders, a full complement of men's and women's divisions, from juniors to professionals, will compete for $4,000 in cash prizes. Multiple age Cat 5 racers will begin the day with a start time at 9:30 a.m. The feature event is a Pro-1-2-3 race that has attracted present and recent national champions and some of the finest racers in the country. Participants can pre-register online at www.jamestownclassic. org or, with a late fee, on race day beginning at 7 a.m. at the Jamestown Recreation Center at East Ferry. Visit the website at www.jamestownclassic.org for more information. A pasta supper will be held the night before for carbo-loading at Ft. Getty.

The "Rides and Strides for Humanity" events will be held on Sunday, Oct. 7, beginning at 2 p.m. at Ft. Getty. Participants in all events will have the choice of donating to five different charitable and humanitarian projects that include Jamestown Community projects, the Nicaragua Wheelchair Project, a Ghana Literacy Project, Pure Water projects and a National Charities Fund.

Participants in this program can also pre-register by visiting the Web site at www.jamestownclassic. org. Number pickup and checkin begins at 12:30 p.m. Adult participants must raise a minimum of $100, and children must raise $20. T-shirts will be given to each participant along with coupons, one for every $50 raised, for valuable drawing prizes.

Multiple scenic courses are available for the various events in this program. All participants will be given a complimentary ticket for the pasta dinner that will follow the events on Sunday evening. Special awards will be given to participants who raise funds that exceed the minimum.

"The Jamestown Classic is the largest bicycle road race in Rhode Island, with over 800 participants expected this year in both programs. We have events for every rider in every category," said Mecca, who has held his post for ten years. "Since Dave Martin, the first chairman, started the 'Round the Island Race 32 years ago with the Rotary Club, it has grown every year. So many people have benefited from the funds raised by this charitable event," Mecca said.

He said that some of the best racers from the Northeast and beyond compete in the USCF sanctioned series. For anyone holding a USCF license who wants to race with the best of the best, including present and former US champions, this is their chance, Mecca said. Those who want to move into USCF competition, but have never tried, can secure a one-day license, available onsite.

For more than three decades the Jamestown Rotary Club has supported a number of causes in the community and around the world with the proceeds of its annual bike race. They have made contributions to the Food Pantry, provided Thanksgiving baskets for needy families, helped build playgrounds, a nature trail, and historic and memorial sites in Jamestown, provided scholarships, sponsored essay contests, supported projects for scouts and recreational sports, cultural visits, student exchange programs, immunization clinics and a host of youth and senior projects to assist people in need.

"The annual race has grown from raising $700 to $800 in the beginning to raising close to $18,000, after expenses, that can be used for charity," said media coordinator Nick Morenzi.

Town Councilman Michael Schnack, who is also on the organizing committee, encourages everyone "to attend, participate, and those who can, to volunteer to help with this exciting event that does so much for the town and important charities. This is a big deal for the community, and more than a hundred volunteers are needed to assure its success. The benefits of the race donations extend to other countries in areas where people are desperately in need. It's also an opportunity see some of the top cyclists in the world perform, right here at home, in Jamestown," Schnack said.

Much of the downtown area will be closed to parking on race day. Event parking will take place at the Lawn Avenue and Melrose Avenue Schools. Follow signs to these designated parking areas. The start/finish line and registration area is less than a warm up ride or a 10- minute walk. Police and race volunteers will be on hand for traffic control and to assist with directions.

This year the race is sponsored by: BankNewport, Narragansett Electric, Star Gas, Caster's, W.E. Stedman Co., Narragansett Bikes, Inc., Ten Speed Spokes, Pedal Power, RI Turnpike and Bridge Authority, Miller Scott & Holbrook, Attorneys at Law; Newport Wheelsports, Shaw's Supermarket, Wakefield; Crystal Spring, Genlex.com, Howard Johnson Inn, Middletown, Lionel Champlin Guest House, TraxLiteracy.com, and Tyler Page.

For those who would like to register, volunteer, or learn more about the race, visit the Web site, call Mecca at 423-3342, or contact media coordinator Nick Morenzi by email at knick112@cox.net or by phone at 423-2407.

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