Inaugural Tour de Charleston races to success


Toluwalase Solomon

Neil Fortner, the winner of the 50-mile race, crosses the finish line Saturday at the inaugural Tour de Charleston. Fortner finished the race with a time of two hours and 15 minutes. A member of the Wild Card Cycling team, he said he enjoyed the race, but the last few miles were challenging.

AJ Fournier, Campus Editor

With the sun beating down on their helmets, cyclists lined up on Jackson Avenue for the inaugural Tour de Charleston on Saturday.

The “tour” was a series of three races with a distance of 12.5 miles, 25 miles or 50 miles.

Brendan Lynch, a member of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said each course was carefully planned and there was a lot of thought put into how to organize each race.

Lynch said the 12-mile and 25-mile races go north while the 50-mile race went a variety of different directions, with each race having multiple break stations.

“The 12.5- and 25-mile race routes were designed to be flat for beginner cyclists while the 50-mile route was designed to be as hilly as possible, and take advantage of the scenic vistas,” Lynch said.

He said the race had huge support from the community, especially from local businesses and the city’s government.

Neil Fortner was the winner of the 50-mile race, crossing the finish line with a time of two hours and 15 minutes.

Fortner, also a member of the Wild Card Cycling team, said he enjoyed the race, but the last few miles were a bit of a challenge.

“The last few miles were pretty intense, but it was a good course. (There were) not too many hills but there were some nice scenic hills,” Fortner said.

Fortner said that he trained for the event by always riding his bike, which he was already doing to begin with. Fortner has been cycling since college, but said he has only been seriously riding for the last six years and now competes in bike races almost every other week.

The winner of the 25-mile race, Tyler Kaufman, said it was a great experience with a great turnout. Kaufman trained for the race just by riding his bike as often as he could and plans to compete again in next year’s race.
The runner-up in the 25-mile race, Tara Higgs, also said that the race was a great experience and that she enjoyed being able to keep up with the challenges of the race.

Higgs said she has just recently started her training, but said keeping herself in shape was what helped her achieve her runner-up finish in the 25-mile race.

About 250 cyclists participated in the race and Lynch said the money collected from the event went to the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce.

He said the Chamber of Commerce will use the proceeds from the race to benefit the Chamber of Commerce.

For more photos, click on this link to check out our gallery>>>

AJ Fournier can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].