Hell of the South bicycle race to be held in April

Friday, March 27, 2015

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

Maybe running and lifting weights isn't your thing and you need to shed a few pounds before summer hits. Have you ever thought about bicycling?

On April 11 a competitive "Hell of the South" bicycle race is to be held in memory of Dr. Laray Rector.

Rector was a longtime dentist in Lewisburg. He tragically was hit and killed by a vehicle in December while riding his mountain bike with a friend in Maury County.

Thad DeHart and Lewisburg City Mayor, Jim Bingham, started the "Hell of the South" race in Berlin, Tenn. six years ago.

"We began the race because we loved the rural area around Berlin, and we not only wanted to host a top quality cycling event, but we wanted to give back to the community," said Bingham.

"In France there is a 'Hell of the North' bike race, so we borrowed their idea and named ours 'Hell of the South."

Since 2009 the races, which consist of road races, time trials, and cyclocross races, have grown from 100 participants to 300 in 2014. Each race not only allows bikers a competitive atmosphere to show their skill, they have also raised well over $2,500 in donations to the community of Berlin, all with no outside sponsorship or organizational help.

Although he isn't competing this year, DeHart has competed in the race four out of the six years it's been held. Both he and Bingham are experienced bicyclists.

In addition, the turnouts have generated nearly 50 overnight stays at local hotels.

What to expect

The Hell of the South race will start at Columbia State Community College located on South Ellington Parkway in Lewisburg and consist of good pavement, Tennessee chip and seal, broken asphalt with gravel and rolling, hilly terrain. One may even experience a chicken or cow while biking.

There are eight categories for bikers wanting to participate. Category five is the beginners category and consists of a 22-mile trek. People who compete in this should have participated in at least 10 cycling events.

Master bikers 40 and over, 50 to 60 years of age and women from level one to four consist of a 44-mile trek.

There are also three other categories that consist of a 66-mile race.

All bikers must have a bicycling licensed before participating in the race. If one does not have a license, he or she can purchase a one-day license the day of the race.

The race is also available for teenager racers.

"If you haven't ridden a bike before, it will be challenging. During a 5K people are racing against their time. In a bike race people race against everyone around them. It's pretty competitive," said DeHart.

A standard road bike is needed for participants. This kind of bicycle has bars that curl under and consist of thinner tires than most bikes.

Money raised will go towards cash rewards for winners of each race.