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Jan 24, 2006

Bike race will connect Belizean ancient Maya sites

Story PictureIf walking isn’t your thing, on Sunday cycling enthusiasts will congregate in the Toledo district for the start of the first annual Temple to Temple Cross Country Bicycle Expedition. The race route begins at the Lubaantun archaeological site at seven-thirty in the morning and over the next seven days riders will travel to different ancient Maya sites in the Stann Creek and Cayo districts with stops scheduled for Blue Creek, Hopkins, Placencia, Caves Branch, and San Ignacio. Participants for the four hundred and fifty mile race include international mountain bike champions Walker Ferguson of the U.S.A. and Christina Russel of Germany. And even though the course sounds intense, this week organiser Michael de Jong maintains that all riders need to have fun is a bike, tent, and lots of energy. De Jong says Belize is the perfect place for this kind of event.

Michael de Jong, Organiser, Temple to Temple Expedition
?I think I have always been fascinated by temples. It seems that the outside world really doesn?t that much about the Mayan experience and I think they are fascinating places. We get to actually camp at some of these temples and I think the magic of the whole experience will be to actually stay there at these temples. And also the format, the race is not pure road, not pure mountain bike, so it?s a mixed race, so it?s a new type of race. I?ve been throwing these races also in Africa, where it is a long-distance bike race from Cairo to Capetown and I thought Belize is ideal because there are few cars here, so it?s an ideal country to do a bike race.?

?I think first of all it should be fun. I think it?s an international race. I think people want to participate. I think a lot of people like the media aspect, they want to be covered by the news and say I won that stage, look in the magazine. I guess people are always motivated by strange things…I think the competitive element is one, the other thing is that people are entering from a touring perspective, they are not really racing, but they just want to cycle and this is kind of a unique race because not everybody necessarily has to race, they can tour it; although we have professional timing, so for the racers it?s interesting.?

First prize for the race is a Gary Fisher 29 X-calibur mountain bike. Anyone interested in registering for the event can do so at Ordonez bike shop on Pelican Street in Belize City. The price for Belizean riders is set at six hundred and forty dollars, which includes all food and camping fees.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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