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Huntington hosts first Bike Bash at Rotary Park

Oct. 27, 2013 @ 12:38 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Spend some time talking with Huntington resident Mark Brown about Cyclocross, and he may have you ready to sign up to join a team by the end of the conversation.

Brown's passion for cycling, and Cyclocross bike racing in particular, is infectious.

And what better way to show off the sport, which has flourished in Europe and the Eastern United States, than by having a course set up for a race at Huntington's Bike Bash Saturday at Rotary Park.

"The park is really well suited for it," said Brown as he went along the course setting up tape boundaries Saturday. "The way the terrain is set up, it's like what you would find on a lot of Cyclocross courses in this country. So it's a good place to practice and have fun."

Cyclocross typically involves a 1 1/2 to 2-mile course that includes hills, dirt, sand and pavement. Bikers may have to dismount and carry their rides up a few steps. There are typically some barriers to jump over as well.

"The whole idea is to have a course where you can pretty much see the whole race, and watch people struggle through the course," Brown said. "It's kind of cool. Once you get some momentum built up on your bike, that's typically when something comes up that you have to work through."

For the past three years, Brown has been traveling around the region from Louisville and Cincinnati to Columbus and Dayton competing in Cyclocross racing.

Mountain bikes and hybrid bikes can be used on a Cyclocross course, but the best bike to use is one that's specifically designed for Cyclocross.

"The best way to start is to use whatever bike you've got," Brown said. "If you get real serious about it, then you'll want to get a Cylcocross bike."

Saturday's event wasn't all about Cyclocross. It featured various elements of the cycling culture in the Tri-State, which is continuing to grow.

Organized by the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, the Bike Bash offered up plenty of different types of rides, safety classes for children learning to ride bicycles, live music, food vendors, and lots of bicycle info booths from various clubs and organizations from around the region.

Park District director Kevin Brady said the event is not only a good way to get people into cycling, but to also show off Rotary Park, which has had some image issues linked to drug use and violence.

"Huntington is becoming a cycling community, and I want Rotary Park to become a cycling destination," Brady said. "This is such an untapped resource. It's the biggest park we have -- it's 135 acres. This is beautiful up here, people just don't know about it.

"It has a bad reputation. It has since the 1980s. I want to change all that. I want people to come up here and hike and bike and use the park for what it's supposed to be used for."

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