Cyclists converge on Franklin

Published 11:07 am Monday, July 18, 2011

Sharon Nicholson, left, Chris Lloyd, B.J. Samuel and Thomas Carey compete in the Franklin Omnium bicycle race on Saturday. FRANK A. DAVIS/TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—Former resident Ron Whitenack returned to Franklin this weekend to compete in the first bike race held here in more than a decade.

Traveling from Newport News, Whitenack was accompanied by his wife, Betty, a graduate of Franklin High School, who follows her husband to all his races and takes pictures.

Ron Whitenack, a state and bar champion in the 60-plus age category, was among 150 cyclists from Virginia and as far away as Maryland and North Carolina who participated in the Franklin Omniun this weekend. Celerity Cycling and Vanderkitten Racing sponsored the Virginia Cycling Association certified event.

Competing on bikes that cost $3,000 to $20,000, racers started with time trials at 8 a.m. Saturday from Main Street in downtown Franklin. They rode about 10 miles, going to the Virginia State Police station on Southampton Parkway near Courtland and returning to Main Street.

On Saturday afternoon, cyclists competed with individual racing splits. The categories ranged from fastest non-professional to novice riders. Many racers considered the route to be very technical and difficult due to the short quick turns.

Dan Netzer, president of Celerity Cycling and an event coordinator, reported some crashes but nothing major. Crashes are normal during these events, Netzer said.

Among cyclists competing in the Omnium was Franklin resident Taryn Hains. She rode 9.6 miles in Saturday’s time trial in 25 minutes and 18 seconds for a third-place finish in her class. On Sunday, Hains took fifth in the road race.

Dr. Chris Karmilovich also raced on Sunday, placing first in his class.

On Sunday morning, the final segment of the weekend continued in Southampton County. Starting at Hunterdale Elementary School, cyclists rode from 28 to 70 miles.

Southampton County Sheriff’s Office provided security for the racers, who were pleased with the turnout and overall organization of the race.

Netzer noted that overall he, his club and cyclists were satisfied with the race and lookforward to coming back next year. Organizers learned a lot from this race and know where to make improvements