Spokes and pedals packed the downtown streets of Brooksville on Saturday for the 5th annual Brooksville Cycling Classic. Hundreds of cyclists and spectators alike gathered in the streets to be a part of this one-of-a-kind event that adds to the culture of the area. The event is hosted by “Get Healthy Vitamins and Natural Foods” and was founded by owner Laura Dewitt back in 2010.
Laura and her business partner, Karen Greenway have owned “Get Healthy” for nearly 25 years and embrace a vision of promoting wellness and education within the community. Laura is a triathlete and has a passion for cycling but she says the “priority is to create a community event” and to bring people together in our area.
Musicians set up on the steps of the courthouse and vendors catered to the crowds with everything from local honey to a makeshift photography gallery on the square. The event has been growing since its conception and this year’s race set a new record for entries in the juniors division with sixty contestants between ages nine and eighteen.
One of them was Jake Thornton, son of former pro-rider Josh Thornton of Dade City. Josh has been on world travels competing among top athletes and collecting titles such as the Junior World Cup champion and Junior National champion as well as being a National Team member. His passion today is for the next generation of racers through coaching and developing races. He founded “Wicked Awesome Racing” in partnership with his wife Kaleigh Thornton with a vision of promoting family oriented, healthy, outdoor lifestyle through cycling. It is only natural that the pair’s son Jake, would follow the bicycling legacy.
Racers packed in at the starting line at the intersection of Liberty and Main streets, traveling west and looped back around under the canopy of grandfather oaks on brick road, Brooksville Avenue. The event is sought after by cycle enthusiasts all over the state and beyond for its criterium style. Interesting sights, turns, and terrain as well as the availability for spectatorship are a huge draw for the event.
Wallace McRoy of Ponte Vedra took home the prized jersey as first place winner of his race, ages sixty five to sixty nine. Wallace began racing about three years ago after retiring and found a love for the sport. As a first timer to the Brooksville area, its a place he will not soon forget after climbing to the winners stand, set up in front of the Lowman Law Firm.
Another winner of the day was Citrus county native, Owen Shott who traveled along with his team of about thirty from Jacksonville to take part in the criterium. “The course was tough, you can really feel your hands shaking on the handlebars when you're riding on the cobblestones. It’s a challenging course and I like that.” Owen said moments after crossing the finish line. Owen has earned five state titles but says that the win at Brooksville’s Cycling Classic on Saturday is by far the one he is most proud of. Owen graduated from the Leopards rival, Citrus High where he excelled in track, cross-country, and soccer. Continuing in his competitive spirit and athleticism, Owen discovered his cycling passion and is a member of the VeloBrew cycling club in Jacksonville.
Brooksville has an interesting geographic terrain with elevations and slopes uncharacteristic of Florida flat lands, this makes the town race a treat and a little different from other courses in the state. It was an exciting day at the races on the Brooksville square and an event that is sure to have people from all around talking about this quaint, historic town.