Cycling championships draw crowds from across the country to Augusta

Mitzi Silber had everything she needed Friday for a day at the races.

 

With folding chairs, a water bottle and sunglasses, she was prepared to watch her 17-year-old son, Kipp, race by her on Broad Street in the USA Cycling National Cham­pionships criterium.

Though Kipp would not race for about another three hours – he was in the men’s 17-18 division – she eagerly watched as clusters of cyclists sped past her. Kipp was elsewhere, working on the wheels of his bike.

Not only is she Kipp’s biggest cheerleader, but she is in charge of membership and on the board of directors for his cycling team, Merrill Lynch/Team Dayton.

She’s also a riding partner.

“We’re a riding family,” said Silber, though she only started racing this year. Her husband, Craig, has raced for four years. Neither competed in this week’s championships.

Kipp won the Ohio state road championship in 2010 and last year placed 30th in the national competition.

“It was 12 seconds out of first place. That was awesome,” Silber said.

Only two of his 120 team members made the trip from Dayton, Ohio, Silber said.

Last year was Kipp’s first trip to nationals because it was within driving distance, she said.

“The two years before here, it was all the way in Oregon,” she said. “I’m not going to drive to Oregon.”

More than 1,000 cyclists from across the country also made the trip, and the friends or family members who came with them bring the tourist numbers into the thousands, said Brinsley Thigpen, the CEO of the Augusta Sports Council.

“We’re estimating about a $2 million impact,” she said.

More than 300 volunteers helped with traffic control, manned water stations and sold T-shirts while the cyclists wound their way through downtown.

Thigpen said such competitions bring national exposure to Augusta.

“We’ve started bringing some elite events to our city,” she said.

Liz Barbot came from Boulder, Colo., to cheer on her boyfriend of five years, Jim Peterman.

Peterman’s mother, Sophia Bro­thers Peterman, drove from Atlanta to watch with her. Now that he lives in Boulder, she doesn’t get to support her son as much as she once did.

“It’s been a dream of his to ride in the Elite,” Brothers Peterman said.

Peterman placed fourth in the U23 Elite time trials Thursday at Lake Thurmond.

This is his first year in the national competition. Barbot said he has been competing somewhere nearly every weekend since March. This is the farthest he has traveled for a race, she said. They flew from Denver.

Brothers Peterman said her son was excited to be competing this weekend, though perhaps not excessively so.

“He’s a chill guy, so he’s not going to be bouncing off the walls,” she said.

“He got fourth yesterday. He’s been happy.”

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