Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Bike races invade Baldwin City

June 18, 2003

There was a new view of bicycle racing in Baldwin City over the weekend and there was the similar sights out in the country when the bike racers went long distance out through the Vinland area and back.

Race organizers appreciated the stay in Baldwin and hope there wasn't too much disruption.

"Baldwin City is such a great place. It's a beautiful city with lots of interesting things to see," said Craig Bissell, race promoter for the Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute that put on Saturday and Sunday's Baldwin City Stage Race, which was part of the Kansas and Missouri "Best All-Around Rider" series.

Saturday's races were in and eight-block area starting at City Hall going south on Eighth St., turning west on Jersey St., then north on 10th St. and then back east on High St. Sunday's long-distance version started at Baldwin High School, going north on County Road 1057 to the Vinland area and then back again for the finish line at BHS.

Lawrence rider Tony Smith won the two-day event. He placed second in Sunday's Category 4 classification road race. That coupled with his criterium win Saturday and points awarded from his time trial also on Saturday brought him the overall title. Ironically, the victory came on the anniversary of his bike racing beginning.

"It's a pretty neat feat," Smith said of the win. "Plus, doing this almost 10 years to the day is kind of like an anniversary present."

There were 155 racers that took part in the two-day event, which included the three races. Racers came from all over, including Iowa, Nebraska and Texas. The attraction of Baldwin included the brick streets in town, along with the course running out of town.

"It was really good to have everything centrally located in Baldwin City," said Bissell. "All three of our races were started in town and it's good to have them that way."

There were concerns about possible disruptions to traffic both in and outside of Baldwin. City Councilman Todd Cohen, who also is on the public safety committee, thought everything went well and would like to see the racers return.

"I think it was good for the town," said Cohen. "I haven't heard anyone complaining. We were just a little in the dark at how big it was and that caused concerns. Perhaps it wasn't as big a disruption as we thought it might be.

"I would love for them to come back," he said. "I'd like to see something in tandem, such as with Art Walk or something. It brought outside people into town. We like outside money and we'd like to see more of it. It's good, clean fun."

Bissell said he knows there was a lot of that money brought in, adding that he knew he'd spent "a couple hundred dollars" while he was here along with other race officials.

"Hopefully, the economic impact was good," he said. "We're going to get our figures together for how much money we contributed to Baldwin's economy. We'd like to present those figures to the city council and let them know what we brought to town and that we'd like to come back."

Originally, race promoters wanted the course to be around Baker University, but there had already been a wedding scheduled at the chapel. Cohen said with a little more notice next year, maybe that course could be used.

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