By Tim Lima
---- — NEWBURYPORT – Over the past three years, the Coastal Trails Coalition “Slow Bike Race” has really gained momentum. Well, not really.
The objective of the race is to finish last while not being disqualified – or to balance on a bike in a designated area for as long as possible. If this doesn’t sound interesting enough, consider that many participants are dressed in full costume.
“Last year we had the first real competition between two gentlemen who had such high skills balancing on a bike,” said race director Cyd Raschke. “The course is very short, just 15 yards to start. We had suggestions to shorten the final round to just a 12 foot course because they were so skilled. They can really balance.”
Originating from an idea that exists at a variety of colleges, the Coastal Trails Coalition has created its own set of rules to make the event its own.
“You can’t put your feet down at all,” Raschke said. “You have to stay in your lane and you can’t go backwards. Only the bike tires are allowed to touch the ground.”
Along with winning a prize for finishing last, there are also prizes awarded for best costume and most money raised. In the event’s first year, the winning costume was a backpack-type cage with a live African Grey Parrot inside. The following year, the winner of the most creative costume prize was dressed head-to-toe as a turtle.
Prizes in previous years have consisted of gift cards from local businesses and restaurants including Riverside Cycle, Yankee Runner, Elements Massage in the Tannery, Michael’s Harborside Restaurant and Stone Deck Pizza.
Unlike previous races, this year’s will be timed – since the skill of those participating last year warranted timed results.
Now heading into its fourth year, the event – which is the main fundraiser of the Coastal Trails Coalition – has gathered donations for both the Coalition and for Newburyport Rail Trails.
According to its website, the Coastal Trails Coalition’s main mission is to “advocate for the Coastal Trails Network, a public system of interconnected bicycle and pedestrian trails that will enhance local recreation, conservation, education and tourism opportunities.”
Their dream is to be able to travel from the “revitalized mill village of Amesbury to the beaches of the Salisbury Beach State Reservation; from shopping in historic Newburyport to the natural sites of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury – all without getting in your car.”
The race will be held next to Newburyport Yankee Homecoming on July 30 at 6 p.m. at Brown Square. The minimum donation required to participate in the race is $25. To register and for specific rules, visit the Coalition’s website at CoastalTrails.org, and don’t forget to wear your most creative costume if you ride.