Championship cycling race held on Founders Plaza

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jul. 1, 2011
The Keith Berger Memorial Race was held on Founders Plaza June 26. Photos by Frances Taylor.
The Keith Berger Memorial Race was held on Founders Plaza June 26. Photos by Frances Taylor.

Julie Lockhart began competitive bike-racing five years ago, at the age of 65. “I love the camaraderie, and every race is different,” said Lockhart, a member of NEBC – Cycle Loft, a team based outside of Boston.

Lockhart, who turns 70 next month, has won multiple state and national bike races. She turned to racing after trying it in another competition. “I started out in triathlon, and I found that racing was much more fun,” she said.

Lockhart was one of approximately 350 cyclists who took part in the Keith Berger Memorial Race that was held on Founders Plaza on Sunday, June 26. More than 100 cyclists participated in the final semi-pro event of the day. There were racing categories for men and women ages 14-18, a master's race for riders over 40, semi-pro events for men and women.

Mark Paggioli, president of the Capital Velo Club-Subaru of New England, said the annual race is held in the memory of Keith Berger, a club member who died of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2004. Berger was an elite-level cyclist. “He lived near here, and he used to ride around the plaza training for races,” said Paggioli. A portion of the funds raised by the event is donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and a portion benefits youth cycling.

There were cyclists with decades of experience, and newcomers making a name for themselves. The race also served as the 2011 Connecticut Criterion Championships, which enables riders to move through various categories and qualify for different races. Racers sped around the 1-mile circuit from 20 to 45 times in various categories. Allan Rego, a Rhode Island resident, placed first in the pro category.

Karen Williams, 40, of Cycling Concepts in Glastonbury, was taking part in her first full year of competition. “I love fitness, and it’s just a lot more fun riding with a group of people and going different places,” said Williams.

David Bailey, 53, has been racing for 20 years. “I like the speed and the athleticism, even the technology that goes into bike racing,” he said. “There is a lot of camaraderie and it’s a good way to stay in shape.”

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