Greenbelt Park Bike Races
Every Wednesday evening from early May to late August (except the week of the Fourth of July), cycling enthusiasts gather at Greenbelt Park to compete in a series of bicycle races. Now in its 33rd year, the Greenbelt Park Training Race Series is a USA Cycling sanctioned event and is run by Route 1 Velo, a USA Cycling sanctioned club in the Washington, D.C. area. The first race starts at 6 p.m. and on average, 60 to 70 cyclists show up every week.
Three times during the summer, a special Lance Armstrong Junior Race Series (LAJRS) race is held for boys and girls from age 10 to 12. Here Iain MacKeith (age 10) practices before his race.
Cyclists check in at the registration table. Because Greenbelt Park is run by the National Park Service and the organizers of these races do not have a concessionaire’s permit, nothing can be sold here. Race participants need to purchase a voucher before the race either online or at T.G.I. Friday’s parking lot just outside the park.
The first race of the evening is the C race which is designed for less experienced riders. The registration fee for this race is $12, and participants ride for 30 minutes plus two laps. Each lap at Greenbelt Park is 1.4 miles.
Andrea Hogarth, today’s referee, reads instructions before the race: “Ladies and Gentleman: Thank you for attending the Greenbelt Park Training Race. This is the C race… This race is 30 minutes plus two laps…”
The C race starts promptly at 6 p.m. The participants wear green bibs.
The junior race starts one minute after the C race at 6:01 p.m. There are five participants today and they are to ride two laps.
The junior cyclists start their race.
Winner of today’s junior race. Top three finishers receive medals.
C racers wearing green bibs
The course is paved and has about 100 feet elevation change. Here the C racers pedal uphill.
The referee rings a bell to indicate the final lap. The number also says one lap remains.
Winner of the C race
The C race is designed to be a low-key, fun race for riders new to the sport. Those who have consistently done well in C races will be asked to moved up to the B race.
A cyclist uses a bicycle rack from Arrow Bicycle to check on his bike before the race. Arrow Bicycle from Hyattsville, Maryland is a sponsor of Route 1 Velo club and the Greenbelt races.
The B race is next level above C race and the A race is for the most advanced riders. Here a B racer receives a blue bib. Both races have a $17 registration fee.
An A racer fixes his red bib to his jersey. He is instructed to fix the bib to his right side so that the officials can see the number as he crosses the finish line. Racers ride through the park in the clockwise fashion, and the officials sit inside the loop.
A group of riders chat before the race. The Greenbelt Park Training Series started this year on May 2 and will run until August 22. Many racers have competed against each other numerous times here and at weekend competitions and know each other well.
Riders ride to the start of the race. At 6:46 p.m., the setting sun is casting long shadows.
A racers gather at the start.
The referee reads instructions. There will be 19 laps for the A racers.
Off they go.
The B racers gather at the start line. Their race starts a minute after the A race, and they will ride 15 laps.
Off they go. The A and B racers compete on the same course. The officials will distinguish the racers by the color of the bibs.
It is 6:54 p.m., not that dark. Here I closed the aperture of the camera to limit the amount of ambient light and used the flash to create this effect. Also I panned my camera to create the motion blur.
At this point, riders have been climbing uphill for quite a while, and that fact shows up in their facial expressions.
Here they are riding downhill and can afford to drink some water.
Riding uphill again
Leader of today’s A race
Winner of the A race crosses the finish line. It is 7:51 p.m. and the race started at 6:48 p.m.
Vita Coco coconut water is a sponsor of the race series, and here drinks are distributed to cyclists after the race.
Bagel Place of College Park is another sponsor of the race series, and here bagels from Bagel Place are also available. Beside Arrow Bicycle, Vita Coco, and Bagel Place, two other sponsors are Drink More Water and College Park Car Wash.
On the left, a cyclist checks posted race times.
Referee Andrea Hogarth and Route 1 Velo’s Jeff Travis double check the official times for the A and B races.
Each week, the top 5 riders of the A and B races will receive points, and at the end of the series, the top 3 riders in both the A and B series will be awarded prizes. The Greenbelt Park Training Race Series has been in existence since 1980 and also serves as a fundraiser for Route 1 Velo. Spectators wishing to see the races can park at the park’s Holly parking area where the race will start and finish, and they should arrive before 5:45 p.m. before the road pattern changes for the start of the C race at 6 p.m.