Welcome, cyclists

Published 8:15 am Friday, July 15, 2011

For the first time in more than a decade, hundreds of competitive cyclists will descend on Franklin this weekend as part of the Franklin Omnium.

Welcome, y’all.

Our fair city, with its tree-lined, wide streets and flat terrain, is ideally suited for bicycle racing. Races for serious cyclists typically are held in larger cities such as Norfolk or Richmond, but organizers say they were drawn to rural Western Tidewater for a couple of reasons: plenty of space to race and the enthusiasm that community leaders have shown.

The economic benefits for the community should be considerable. The 300 or so cyclists and, in some cases, their families will stay in local hotels, eat in our restaurants and purchase gasoline, making cash registers ring for merchants and pumping additional sales-tax revenue into local government’s coffers.

Cyclists in return will receive some of the best hospitality that Virginia has to offer.

We see it as a win-win for organizers and the community.

Residents will encounter minor inconveniences in the form of blocked streets and detours. We urge local folks to drive slowly and carefully in the areas of downtown, Clay Street and Hunterdale Road on Saturday and Sunday. Police ask that motorists avoid the intersection of Clay and Hunterdale entirely from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

More important, if you see some visiting cyclists around town, thank them for coming. If all goes well this weekend, Franklin could become a regular stop on the cycling circuit.