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Montego Bay bikeathon rides off today
Adrian Frater, News Editor
CYCLING IS poised to take centrestage in western Jamaica this weekend with the new-look two-day Rotary Club of Montego Bay bikeathon 2006/Jamaica Challenge', which will ride-off today with its criterium phase at Montego Bay Park Estate, in Ironshore.
The event, which is endorsed by the Jamaica Cycling Federation and is being staged under the theme 'cycling for a cause', is geared towards raising funds for the Rotary Club Scholarship and Bursaries Fund, which is designed to assist needy students complete their high school, vocational and tertiary education.
"We spent over J$2.5 million on scholarships last year," said club president Lee Bailey during the launch of the event. "We assisted over 25 students last year and we are certainly looking to increase that number this year."
The decision to have the criterium, which will be a 'time and lap' affair featuring varying standards for the different categories of riders, on a separate day from the other bike-a-thon events, has been roundly endorsed by the cycling federation.
"This is a step in the right direction if we hope to garner international attention and increase the profile of the event," said Vaugh Phang, the president of the Jamaica Cycling Federation. "We are delighted that the entire event is now a full weekend affair."
Tomorrow's grand finale, which will begin and end at the Fairview Shopping Centre, in the Bogue area of Montego Bay, promises to be a dazzling affair as the event is open to riders of all categories, inclusive of a number of national representatives.
The junior riders will cover five kilometres, recreation riders a 25-kilometre course spanning the Fairview Shopping Centre to the Great River Bridge and back, while the professional/amateurs riders will journey the 75 kilometres from Montego Bay to Lucea, in Hanover, and back.
The event, which has attracted solid corporate support, including a whopping $200,000 cheque from main sponsors Digicel, is expected to have a strong celebrity cast with leading members of the Montego Bay business, civic and political community expected to be among the scores of riders contesting the various distances.
"The race is open to everybody who can get hold of a cycle," said Marlene Stephenson-Dalley, the event's coordinator. "Like former years, we are looking forward to an exciting bikeathon."
To enhance final-day activities, there will be a live entertainment package featuring the Dancing Dynamites, The Goofy Brothers and the G-Squad.