Jamestown Classic slated for Columbus Day
Monday is Columbus Day, and for island residents, that means it’s time for the Jamestown Classic.
The 38th annual edition of the local Rotary Club’s bicycle race will attract as many as 500 cyclists to the streets and roads of Conanicut Island.
The cyclists will be divided into a number of classes ranging from 10-year-old juniors to the masters division, with riders 45 and older. In past years participants had to be licensed by USA Cycling, but this year the Rotary has brought back the gran fondo category that will allow recreational riders to race in several classes. The term originated in cyclocross racing, which combines on- and off-road racing.
Participants in the gran fondo classes will make one lap of the island, a distance of about 19 miles. Junior racers will race a partial lap of 13 miles, while all others will make two laps of the island, covering 38 miles. The top cyclists can average close to 20 mph on their ride.
The gran fondo classes will start from East Ferry at 8:30 a.m. The licensed classes will start two hours later, giving the early starters enough time to finish the course.
Entry fees range from $25 to $40. No prizes are awarded in the gran fondo, and the juniors will compete for medals. For several of the more-experienced classes, there are purses of $350 that are split among the top five riders. Each rider in the race receives a free T-shirt.
Since the local Rotary Club is relatively small, the club in the last few years has hired professional organizer Alan Atwood of Atwood Racing Services to conduct the races. This year is no different.
According to Rotarian Jim Perry, the Classic remains the club’s biggest fundraiser. The Rotary uses the proceeds of the race to provide a college scholarship to the highschool senior from Jamestown with the highest grade point average. The club also supports a literacy project in Ghana, purchases wheelchairs for underprivileged people in Nicaragua, supports a clean-water project in Cambodia, and contributes to ALS research. Rotarians provide funds to the Rhode Island and Jamestown food banks, and the club remains a top supporter of the local Boy Scouts troop. On the day of the bike race, the Rotary Club will sponsor a blood drive at McQuade’s Marketplace.
This year proceeds will be used to provide assistance to the victims of flooding in Jamestown, Colo. The idea for the assistance came when a Rotary member realized the Colorado town was nearly wiped out by the flooding. The organization decided to contact Rotary Clubs in other Jamestowns across the country to help in the effort.
Jamestown is a small mountain town in northern Colorado that was devastated by heavy rains and flash flooding that started on Sept. 11 and lasted three days. The town was completely isolated following the catastrophe, and most residents were airlifted to nearby Boulder.
The town lost 20 percent of its homes, 50 percent of its roads, both bridges and one life. Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called the flooding “unprecedented.” The natural disaster is being considered a 100-year flood, meaning there is a 1-percent probability that it will happen in any given year.
Jamestown Rotary President Rusty Sallee began to seek out other clubs in like-named towns nationwide, and eventually enlisted six to help with the effort, including clubs in New York, West Virginia and Kentucky. Sallee learned that the Rotary Club in Jamestown, Colo., was part of Rotary’s Denver district. The district office created a matching fund specifically to help out the flooded town.
“We encouraged the other Jamestowns to contribute to the matching fund at the district,” Sallee said. “We’re still working on it. It’s going to be a long-term project for the people out there.”
On the day of the race, the Jamestown Police Department will provide officers at various intersections along the route. EMS staff will also be close by in case of an emergency. Because the downhill dash to the finish line can be precarious, particularly for experienced riders who will be riding at high speeds, an ambulance will be parked near the finish line.
The Rotary Club needs volunteers for the Jamestown Classic. Anyone interested in volunteering can come to the organizational orientation at the rec center on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Every volunteer gets a free race T-shirt. When the race is over and all the riders and volunteers have received their shirt, any remaining shirts will go on sale to the public at the rec center.
Perry said Jamestown residents are encouraged to help by making a donation to the Rotary Club. The money will be directed to the effort in Colorado. Checks can be sent to the Lionel Champlin Guest House at 20 Lincoln Street where the Rotary Club meets. Residents are also invited to attend the club’s weekly breakfast meetings that take place at 7:15 a.m. every Thursday.