‘Dismal Dash’ a blast for Virginia bikers

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 8, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Most 12- or 13-year-olds spend their spring and summer weekends emulating Kobe Bryant on the basketball courts or Barry Bonds on the baseball fields. Stephen Koelbl, however, wants to be like biking legend Lance Armstrong.

&uot;I do 100 mile rides for fun on the weekends,&uot; the 13-year-old Fairfax County rider said Sunday after completing the 40K Dismal Dash ride. &uot;Most of my races are about 10 miles.&uot; Last year, Stephen rode his Trek 5200 to a state biking championship.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We had a little bit of a headwind out there,&uot; he said of Sunday’s event. &uot;It slowed us down at first, but on the way back, it pushed us about 25 miles an hour.&uot;

He was one of over 170 riders to take part in the event, held by the Chesapeake Cycling Club. &uot;We’ve put on races in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Surry, and we wanted to come to a new area,&uot; said club president Don Peterson, who hopes to make the Dash an annual occurrence.

Peterson first sowed the seeds for the Dash just before Christmas. &uot;We walked into the first building we came to, and met Bill Kelly (of the Parks and Rec. Department),&uot; he said with a laugh. &uot;He was the most receptive city official we’d ever worked with.

&uot;We spent a lot of time driving through Suffolk,&uot; he said. &uot;We looked for a place that had room for parking, and roads less traveled.&uot; The race started and ended at White Marsh Shopping Center, and spun along the Dismal Swamp. &uot;We wanted it to parallel the swamp to give it some character.&uot;

Conte’s Bike Shop was one of several organizations to sponsor the event. Laura Cook was one of the Virginia Beach team’s representatives.

&uot;It was a great race,&uot; she said, cooling off with a sip of water. &uot;It was a very flat course and a beautiful day. My goal was to finish in under an hour and 15 minutes, and I did it in 1:14.&uot;

&uot;You ride in races like this to see how you’re doing,&uot; said Jay Davis, a member of the Fat Frog Bike and Fitness squad, also from Virginia Beach. &uot;It’s a huge adrenaline rush. You ride as hard as you can for as long as you can.&uot;

&uot;When you’re getting ready to ride, you’re nervous and you’re concentrating,&uot; said Davis, who completed the course in 1:07. &uot;When you’re going 30 miles an hour after riding 25 miles, it means a lot.&uot;

Around this time next year, Peterson hopes that the event means even more to a greater number of cyclists.

&uot;We’ve got big plans for the future in Suffolk,&uot; he said. &uot;We’d like to bring more upscale events to a town with a lot of progressive-minded leadership, like Suffolk.&uot;