story & photo
by Harrison Lees
It was a unique sight for Fort Trumbull State Park, and for New London. On Thursday, May 22nd, three time Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond, cycled around the fort, followed by a closely packed group of cyclists. Greg, who won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990, was in New London with his old coach Bill Humphreys, Bike Guy LLC, and a large group of junior cyclists from the Mystic Velo Club to promote bicycling in the area and The Whaling City Cyclone Bicycle Race scheduled for June 22nd. Also at the fort were representatives from Dime Bank, a major sponsor of the race, and Dr. Chris Connaughty of Connaughty Chiropractics Center, sponsor of the Mystic Velo Junior Team.
Bill is sure that New London can become a cycling friendly community. He says that this race will have a “trickle-down effect” that will kick off an interest in cycling and it’s benefits. He says that before long, one could see rental bikes and paths ready for people coming off the ferry at the pier. Bill sees this not only because of the race and the cycling prestige it will bring to New London, but also because the area of Southeastern CT has “some of the most beautiful places to bike in the US.”
“Cycling is a sport for life,” Greg stated, saying that once one gets into it, it’s the kind of thing one sticks with. He mentioned how healthy cycling is, as it works against obesity and type-two diabetes. It is also a very mainstream sport and, as Greg put it, the “main form of fundraising.” This is because of its universal appeal since nearly anyone can partake. “Even someone not necessarily in shape can still ride and participate.” Greg explained this by saying that biking supports one’s weight and thus makes it easier to get into shape, adding that biking has to be “more than just for racing.”
When asked about the Fort Trumbull site, Greg said that it was “a nice spot for a race” – an “American style” race, to be specific. According to Greg, the most popular form of bike racing in the US is Criterium Racing as opposed to Exhibition Racing which is more popular in Europe. Exhibition Racing is normally held on long circuits and can last for several days or weeks at a time. Criterium Racing involves short circuits, usually less than five kilometers, and is more likely to be seen in city streets, which suits the roads around Fort Trumbull nicely. He said that this style of racing was best for developing racers and people who are just getting used to the sport.
The race itself will be held on June 22nd and will have several categories for racers of different ages and abilities. The race lengths will be from 15, 24, 35, and 50 miles long, 15 miles being 24 laps and 50 miles being 80 laps. For a nominal fee, bikers can enter for a chance to win cash prizes between $300 to $2,000. “People will be all over Fort Trumbull,” Bill said, saying that he expects approximately 500 racers to enter.
Before taking off on his final round through Trumbull, Greg said, “cycling is really the sport of the future,” even though the technology of the sport has not drastically changed, the “future is to have more bikes for transportation.” Bill added that he was “one phone call away from getting European, Dutch, and Haitian teams” out to the Trumbull track. With these kind of prospects, it looks like New London will soon have another attraction to add to its growing global stature.