Racing and road rash on the square

Friday, August 11, 2017
Every cyclist should race with a stuffed animal in a basket on their bike. The kid racers start their lap around the courthouse on Saturday.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

The constant hum Saturday on the square in Lewisburg wasn’t summertime cicadas. It was the sound of bicycle tires racing through town.

The first Battle of Lewisburg Criterium took place over the weekend, drawing riders from all over to Lewisburg.

Perfect weather and a course around the square that challenged the racers made for a great day out, even for novices to bicycle racing.

Riders sped through the square, reaching speeds up to 40 miles an hour and negotiating plenty of tight turns around the courthouse.

A tight turn in front of the Tribune office kept Lewisburg firefighters busy through the day bandaging riders who didn’t make the turn and slid across the asphalt, leaving some skin behind them.

Lewisburg Parks and Recreation Director Cary Whitesell said that the feedback she had gotten from attendees had been very positive.

She said that the race organizer told her, as well, that the number of compliments he had received from racers had been overwhelming.

Organizers and the city had about three weeks to put the event together after the city of Nashville installed speed bumps on their old course around the Bicentennial Mall in Nashville.

While racers and their families who attended left with positive impressions, more time for planning and promotions next year can hopefully take the day of racing to another level.

Merchants around the square were positive overall about the event but allowed that more time for better organizing and advertising would have helped overall.

Even on Saturday, changes and improvements for next year were already being considered.

Nathan Stone, the promoter, even talked about combining this race with the Hell of the South race for next year and making a full weekend of racing.

“We were able to bring more people into the community,” said Whitesell. “I think bicycle racing can be a niche that we fill.”

Whitesell said that one racer told her, “This is a great town. We’ve never been here before but we want to come back.”