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Dingo Days event brings cycling enthusiasts to Flowery Branch

POSTED: July 14, 2013 12:51 a.m.

If you were driving by the downtown historic district of Flowery Branch on Saturday, you may have seen cyclists racing and thought you had been dropped in the middle of the Tour de France.

Dingo Race Productions LLC held its second annual Dingo Days for cyclists in the area. Saturday was the first of the two-day event spectacular that featured different criterium cycle races, with participants ranging in age from 10 to 55-plus.

The criterium races were held on closed city streets in the downtown Flowery Branch area, a rectangular course under a mile in length.

“Flowery Branch is a beautiful little town. I think it is very underrated by a lot of people,” said Nathan O’Neill, a former eight-time Australia National Trail Champion and one of four creators of Dingo Days and Dingo Race Productions. “Everybody that has come to look at (historic Flowery Branch) has been impressed with how quaint it is.”

O’Neill, originally from Australia and now living in Gainesville, said Dingo Days is about creating awareness for cycling, bringing new people to the sport and giving back to the sport.

“I think this is the best way to take it to the people. When you bring a race to a downtown area, it’s the best way to showcase the beautiful sport of cycling to people who don’t really know anything about it,” he said. “When they see the color, the speed, the sound, and just the atmosphere that it brings, it gets people excited, and they love it.

“Everybody loves a bicycle race. When I tell people we’re having a bike race down here, they’re like ‘Really?’ That’s what we do. ... If you want to get interested in bike racing, come to the races. Talk to us. I’m a coach. I can help point you in the right direction of things you need to do, who you need to talk to. We have services we provide to people. We’re here to develop cycling. That’s our primary goal.”

Dave Brannon, a Gainesville resident and cyclist who competed Saturday, said he’s always competed in triathlons, but cycling has been his favorite. He hoped Saturday could be the start of a new trend for the local cycling community and lure new people to the sport.

“I think it’s real important. I think it generates just a healthy community,” he said. “You look around, everybody around here is happy. Everyone around here is in a good mood. Healthy atmosphere. I think it’s just great for the community.

“I think it’s attractive to (the youth) to come out and see something like this. It’s high energy, high intensity, fun stuff. So yeah, I think (cycling) is something that if you have these kinds of things more readily in the community, it’s going to be great for the upcoming generations.”

Sean Taylor, winner of the category 5 race, said Dingo Days was “worth” his one-hour car ride because of the effort that the organizers put into the event for the community.

“It’s a really good course. It’s pretty quick,” he said. “I feel pretty fortunate that I got to win my race. I really enjoyed myself. ... I think it’s a huge deal because there’s a lot of effort that goes into putting one of these on, and they’re not super often. Especially bigger ones like this one.

“It’s a lot more fun to see (cycling) in person than to watch the Tour de France, or something like that on TV, where you’re only passively involved. If you go out to a race like this and you see local people going around, I think it’s a lot better to do that.”

Another aspect to Saturday’s race were the volunteers like Helen McMullan of Gainesville.

“It takes a special kind of person to bike race,” she said. “I wanted to volunteer because the people who participate are great people, and the people that put the event on are great people. The organizers are great friends. ... Without the volunteers’ help, the race would have been hard to put on. I want to see the races be successful.”

Janet Upchurch, owner of Sample Pleasures, an antique shop in Flowery Branch, was open for business amid the races running past her store.

“I can see where (the event) could have the potential to be a good event,” Upchurch said. “But I didn’t know about it until Wednesday. I wish I had known because I would have loved to help promote it. I love the people I’ve met. It’s a nice family-oriented and a whole event.”

The second day of Dingo Days begins at 9 a.m. today in Oakwood. The races will be contested on 3.2 miles of city’s main connecting roads, starting and ending in front of city hall. Admission is free.

For information and results, visit www.feedyourdingo.com.


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