2017-10-05 / Front Page

Columbus Day bike tradition rides into town

Rotary Club hosts the 42nd annual Jamestown Classic


Bikers take off at the start of the 2016 Jamestown Classic. Money raised from this year’s race will aid people in Nicaragua, a women’s literacy project, help provide clean water in Cambodia, the Lawn School’s music program and ALS research. Bikers take off at the start of the 2016 Jamestown Classic. Money raised from this year’s race will aid people in Nicaragua, a women’s literacy project, help provide clean water in Cambodia, the Lawn School’s music program and ALS research. It’s not every day that cyclists pedaling down North Road can lead to wheelchairs for underprivileged Nicaraguans.

Yet, for more than four decades, that’s exactly what Columbus Day represents in town.

The Jamestown Rotary Club will sponsor its 42nd annual Jamestown Classic bicycle race Monday. While this will be the second year the race is scaled back because of mandated safety precautions, which prove economically unviable for the club, the goal is the same: raise money for people who need it. This year, along with people in Nicaragua, the Rotary is targeting a women’s literacy project in Ghana and clean water in Cambodia. Money also will benefit the Lawn School’s music program and ALS research.

Like 2016, Monday’s race will be a shadow of its former self. A decade ago, 700 riders were raising $18,000 for the Rotary’s charities. Last year, roughly 130 riders raised nearly $5,000.

Following the 2015 race, the Rotarians were hamstrung by the amount of police officers required by the town’s insurer. Previously, seven officers were sufficient. Last year, however, the mandate was upped to 11 officers. The town donated the force in the past, which it will do again, but the Rotary would have had to pay overtime for out-of-town authorities to meet the quota. Because that is cost prohibitive, organizers decided to scale it back.

The ride commences at Fort Getty, which will have less of an impact on the commercial district. (For the first 40 years, the race started at East Ferry square, but Ferry Wharf business owners complained that it hampered their holiday traffic.) Bicycles will head through Mackerel Cove up Southwest Avenue onto North Road. They will travel the length of North Main, circle around the northernmost streets, then head south on the identical route. The racers will continue by Fort Getty to Beavertail, make the picturesque turn around the lighthouse, then finish at Fort Getty.

There will be one lap for all cyclists. In the past, pro riders made as many as three circuits around the island. With the new logistics, USA Cycling does not sanction the race. In light of the new course, the Rotary Club decided that the ride is open to everyone. All they need is a bicycle and a helmet. Beginners and children don’t have to worry about professionals whizzing by them.

The race will start at 8:30 a.m. and all riders are expected to finish by lunch. On the course, there will be four police officers and 12 Rotary volunteers. All riders will be timed and receive a T-shirt. The cost is $40. Advanced registration is available at the Jamestown Classic’s website. On race day, registration opens at 7 a.m.

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