Harrisburg plays home to cyclists in second annual mountain biking competition

By Christie Barlow
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The rain didn’t put a damper on cyclists’ plans last weekend.

On Saturday, cyclists came out to Harrisburg to participate in the kick off of the Bank of North Carolina Short Track Mountain Bike Race Series.

The racing series will continue on Nov. 10 and 17 and Dec. 1 and 8.

The competition, held on the half-mile short track through the woods of Harrisburg Town Park, allows all skill levels and ages to race. Juniors, ages 8 to 13, started racing at 10 a.m. and Super Sport Men wrapped up the day’s events at 2:01 p.m.

“We had a really good turnout and perfect racing weather,” said Dana Ritchie, president of the Southwest Cabarrus Rotary Club, which organized the event. “This is the second one we’ve held and we’ve got a lot more participation this year.”

About 10 people competed in each of the 13 different races, Ritchie said. The increased turnout marks not only success for the race itself, but proceeds from the race goes toward the Rotary Club’s charity outreach.

In addition to providing cyclists in the area with a place to race in the fall, the racing series raises money for polio eradication and Alzheimer’s research, said Rick Hoffarth, the race director. Hoffarth, an avid racer who also helped design and construct the track in Harrisburg in 2005, said growing the series so Rotary can help more people is the main goal.

Being able to provide a nice race track and a good series is a bonus, he said.

“The bottom line as a real purpose, is to raise money for other people,” Hoffarth said. “The other purpose is to have a great race track cyclists will enjoy.”

Event organizers managed to accomplish both goals. Sponsorship from the Bank of North Carolina, among others, allowed nearly all of the funds to go directly to the charities, Hoffarth said.

Riders are awarded prizes each week for finishing in the top three positions on the Harrisburg track. In order to qualify for the series prizes, riders must participate in at least four of the five races in the series. The top three finishers in each category will receive a prize donated by a local bike shop.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top finishers in the Super Sport Women, Super Sport Men and Expert/Semi Expert Men categories.

“I look forward to the last race of the series when we give out the series trophy and prizes,” Hoffarth said. “There’s always a sense of accomplishment of the riders over the course of the series.”

Cathy Mowery, a cyclist, came out to support friends who were racing in the event. Though she wasn’t competing, Mowery has ridden the trail before and said that it was a great track.

Like Mowery, Jake Strasser spent a lot of his Saturday watching others compete in Harrisburg. Strasser, who raced in the Juniors race early in the morning, stuck around to cheer on other racers. Saturday’s race was the second time that Strasser had raced on the Harrisburg track.

“It’s a really good track,” Strasser said. “I liked the burns on the down hill section of the track. It’s banked so you can catch more speed.”

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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