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Grand Prix puts McKeesport on bike racing map

Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - Men's Category 4/5 cyclists race on Eden Park Boulevard before heading into Renziehausen Park during the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>Men's Category 4/5 cyclists race on Eden Park Boulevard before heading into Renziehausen Park during the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - Gina Desmond and J.R. Petsko of ABRA track cyclists as they lap around their Eden Park Boulevard starting/finish line and through Renziehausen Park during the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>Gina Desmond and J.R. Petsko of ABRA track cyclists as they lap around their Eden Park Boulevard starting/finish line and through Renziehausen Park during the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - McKeesporters, from left, recreation director Jim Brown, city electrician Tom Rosso, rec board member Ernie Oatneal, rec board member and councilman Dan Carr and Mayor Michael Cherepko applaud as cyclists race on Eden Park Boulevard during Saturday's McKeesport Grand Prix.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>McKeesporters, from left, recreation director Jim Brown, city electrician Tom Rosso, rec board member Ernie Oatneal, rec board member and councilman Dan Carr and Mayor Michael Cherepko applaud as cyclists race on Eden Park Boulevard during Saturday's McKeesport Grand Prix.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - Jerry Audet of Morgantown, W.Va., celebrates his win in the Men's Category 4/5 race that opened the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>Jerry Audet of Morgantown, W.Va., celebrates his win in the Men's Category 4/5 race that opened the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - Taking practice laps around a nearby parking lot, John Cotter of McKeesport helps 4-year-old daughter Kelsey Alesius prepare for the ABRA Children's Race during the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>Taking practice laps around a nearby parking lot, John Cotter of McKeesport helps 4-year-old daughter Kelsey Alesius prepare for the ABRA Children's Race during the McKeesport Grand Prix on Saturday.

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By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Monday, April 29, 2013, 4:06 a.m.
 

McKeesport welcomed more than 100 cyclists to Renziehausen Park on Saturday for the first-ever McKeesport Grand Prix.

The Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association race brought 101 pre-registered racers to six categories, and approximately 30 more joined that day.

“This is a very good turnout for a first-year race,” J.R. Petsko of ABRA said. “We're very happy.”

Devin Corby, a McKeesport resident who has been racing since 2005, was happier than anyone to see his hometown embracing the sport.

“It's a wonderful thing,” Corby said. “It's a great thing for the community. All of my neighbors are coming out to see me race, and they're excited. It's a good opportunity for people to see what we do and why we're out riding all the time.”

Mayor Michael Cherepko was among the spectators, standing along Eden Park Boulevard and applauding racers as they sped past.

“It's exciting for the city to hold yet another event that brings people into our town,” Cherepko said. “This is a whole different group that now has an interest in McKeesport. We're hoping to continue this partnership with ABRA and that this event gets bigger and better every year.”

McKeesport recreation director Jim Brown said he was pleased with the turnout and the wonderful weather that allowed cyclists to enjoy their day in Renzie Park.

“There are people here from all over the Pittsburgh area, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland,” Brown said. “They're here to see what our city and our park has to offer.”

Jerry Audet of Morgantown, W.Va., placed first in the Men's Category 45. Audet, who has raced for 15 years, the past three on rad bikes, said he's already a fan of McKeesport's course.

“It was fun and not too difficult,” he said. “The roads are perfect, with one strong hill and a good finishing stretch. It's in the park, so you can bring your family and your dogs.”

McKeesport Recreation Board members said they hope ABRA gains sponsorship opportunities for the McKeesport Grand Prix in coming years. They are talking with racing groups about hosting a cyclo-cross event in the fall.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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