Bicycle Classic hits the streets today

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2000

Kevin Collins and Leon Rutt of Michigan decided to come down a day early this year to prepare for their third straight Natchez Bicycle Classic.

&uot;Last year I got dehydrated and didn’t have anybody to get me a water bottle,&uot; Collins said. &uot;The course is pretty tame, but it’s more coping with the humidity.&uot;

Collins and Rutt arrived in Kosciusko Thursday and made their way to Natchez on Friday.

Email newsletter signup

The 2000 Bicycle Classic begins today at 7 a.m. with the Isle of Capri Time Trials, which starts on Main Street, goes down Biglane and up Silver Street before returning to Main Street.

The Herring Gas Road Race is set for 4:30 p.m.. That race starts on Commerce Street and goes out to Kingston before returning downtown.

On Sunday, the Trippe’s Western Auto Criterium will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The race is made up of five divisions –&160;the elite Senior 1, 2, 3; Senior 4, 5; Masters 35; Masters 35 4,5, Women’s 1, 2, 3 and a new division — Women’s 4.

A children’s race is set for 1 p.m., while a celebrity race will be held at 2:10 p.m. The premier event, featuring, Senior 1 ,2 ,3 rider racing for 60 minutes plus five laps, is set to begin at 2:20 p.m.

Course marshals will be lined up along race routes to assist motorists and spectators.

While not faring as well as expected last year, Collins and Rutt said they enjoyed competing in the race, which is the main reason they are back this year.

&uot;I&160;like the way the race is put on,&uot;&160;Rutt said. &uot;They do an outstanding job of organizing everything and it’s all for the comfort of the racers. I look forward to the race every year.&uot;

Collins, 29, has been impressed with how the cyclists have been treated in the past.

&uot;Everybody is very hospitable,&uot; he said. &uot;And it’s a good course.&uot;

Rutt, 36, is recovering from a foot injury and has not raced much this year.

&uot;This is really my debut,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’ve been putting as much stress as possible on my foot. I’m going to see how it feels at the end of the road race and will decide then if I am doing the downtown criterium.&uot;

Collins has competed in 20 races this year, but not a stage race.&uot;

&uot;I’m not strong in the time trials,&uot; he said.

Collins, a Senior 1,2,3 cyclist, began racing at the age of eight, going from BMX&160;racing to mountain and road racing.

&uot;I’m a student, cab driver and bike shop worker and just got a trucking license,&uot; he said. &uot;You have to be flexible in your job to be able to race. And I love to race.&uot;

Rutt, a Senior 4,5 rider, is a student and also a barber.

&uot;It’s such a rush getting up to the line with 100-plus guys getting ready to race,&uot; Rutt said.