As armchair cycling fans watched the first stage of the Tour de France last Saturday, several hundred amatuers bike racers vied for their own glory in western Howard County.
Staged on a 13-mile circuit of rolling country roads near Glenwood, the Road Warrior 50 bicycle race attracted cyclists, categorized by skill level and experience, for races consisting of two to four laps.
Typical of road races, the main field stayed together early in each race, keeping the speed high but conserving energy by drafting. Solo riders and small groups tested their mettle by breaking away — attacking off the front — hoping to stay away until the end. Most of the morning’s races, however, ended with everyone together, sprinting up the steep finishing hill.
Bike racing has grown in popularity over the past decade. USA Cycling claims more than 70,000 licensed racers and sanctions more than 3,000 events annually in a variety of disciplines including BMX, mountain biking and cyclocross. Local races can be found on almost any weekend this summer and into the fall.