Cyclists from around world chase titles, cash prizes on Detroit's streets
Detroit — Hundreds of cyclists swarmed Beacon Park on Saturday to compete for titles and cash prizes at the third annual Detroit Cycling Championship.
The championship hosted by the Detroit Athletic Club with USA Cycling's National Pro Road Tour had more than 450 competitors and 1,000 guests watching from the sidelines.
Professional and amateur cyclists competed for a share of $40,000 in prizes, one of the nation's largest purses. The short-distance circular course was just shy of a mile through downtown. Professional racers also competed for $4,500 for the most continuous individual laps.
Race organizer Kristin Ritter said it was exciting to see cyclists from around the world, the country and Detroit's community competing for the winning jersey.
"We have people from nine countries including Costa Rica, New Zealand, Germany, tons from Canada and obviously the U.S. and 23 states," said Ritter, future president of the DAC's Board of Directors in January.
Ritter said in the event's third year it has become a signature event for the DAC. The event started as Ritter's to use the nonprofit fund for an event that would give back to the community, said DAC President Geoffrey Gallinger.
"We wanted a signature event that represented the city," Gallinger said. "Detroit was the cycling capital of the world so Kristin's idea was perfect."
The one-day event included amateur races, a kids race, park games, yoga, spinning classes and a race just for the DAC Cycling Club.
Henry Brennan, a DAC member from Ann Arbor, normally does road riding and joined his first sprint with the DAC race.
"There's a lot of good riders out here like Wayne State's President (M. Roy) Wilson, who is tough competition," said Brennan, 62. "This was my first time and I don't know what my time was, but I'll do it again."
The event involved more than 300 volunteers and many non-cyclers had fun on the HandleBar Detroit fundraising races. Teams like WOW, Women On Wheels, paid $250 to charity to compete in the block-long HandleBar race.
"We're all women members of the DAC and we all live in the suburbs but come to give back to the city we love so much," said Laurie Sall, 59, from Bingham Farms. "Even though we lost, it was so much fun."