Liberty Cycling Classic road race Saturday, criterium Sunday
Liberty University's men's and women's cycling teams will host the inaugural Liberty Cycling Classic this weekend, attracting well over 500 riders for Saturday's road race near Concord, Va., and Sunday's criterium on East Campus.
Besides the seven Flames and Lady Flames cyclists — graduates Bethany Matsick and Eric Turman, seniors Gunnar Ingram and Todd Yoder, junior Freddie Shashaty, and freshmen Andrew Fields and Miranda Ankney — as well as Head Coach Timo Budarz, collegiate and open participants will travel from throughout Virginia as well as Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and a couple states out West.
"It's a big race for a first-time offering," Budarz said. "USA Cycling made a way for collegiate cyclists to enter open races without having a license, and this might be the biggest race on the East Coast this semester. Gunnar, Bethany, and Todd have been watching the registration numbers and Bethany has been keeping track of the different race categories and who's collegiate and who's not."
He said those three upperclassmen have taken lead roles in organizing the races as well.
"They have taken pleasure in the process, getting people together to hold meetings and orchestrating the road race with approval from representatives of USA Cycling and road closings from local police was not a small ordeal," Budarz said, noting they are also coordinating Liberty students looking to fulfill community service (CSER) hours to serve as race volunteers.
Saturday's road race near Concord, Va., will have 11.27-mile loops with only 253 feet of elevation change, with only a couple "punchy climbs and rolling hills," Budarz said. Parking is available at Calvary Baptist Church, about a 15-minute drive from Liberty's campus. Depending on their category, riders' race distances will range from 34-67 miles, with races starting in stages between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
"We've ridden all over the region and were trying to find a place that is not treacherous, out of heavy traffic, and not ridiculously hilly," Budarz said. "We could find courses around here that would clearly favor a climber, but so many people come from regions that don't have mountains to train on."
Sunday's criterium will be a 0.53-mile loop course out of the East Campus satellite parking lot, where races ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour will begin between 7:45 a.m. and 3 p.m., depending on rider category.
Registration is available online and closes at midnight Thursday.