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October 22, 2012

Letter: Standing up for the 'Gran Prix'

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to voice my support for the annual Gran Prix of Gloucester cyclocross race held in Stage Fort Park each autumn.

Our three children, my husband and I have been attending this event since 2001. We have spent entire weekends racing, cheering and partying with our ‘cross friends. Racers from different parts of the country (Oregon, Colorado, New York) have stayed with us, and we have been privileged to get to know national and international champions of the sport. Gloucester Cross has been called “New England Nationals” and for good reason. It is a queen among cross courses for its natural beauty and challenging characteristics.

The recent editorial (the Times, Wednesday, Oct. 10) and Mr. MacMillian’s letter (Friday, Oct. 12) posited that this is an event that “makes money only for outsiders” and that it “destroys part of the soul of this beautiful place we live in.”

To address the first quote: there are numerous hotels, restaurants and bars that benefit financially from the race. People travel from all over the country (and world!) to race here, and spend their money within the community. Additionally, at the race venue, local vendors (including Amby’s Sausage, The Happy Taco, and Cape Ann Coffees) provide hearty fare for racers and specators alike. I would also suggest that racers have such a positive experience in Gloucester that they return during other seasons to enjoy our scenic beauty as tourists.

I understand that not everyone is interested in cycling, or cyclocross, or spectator sports in general. But to suggest that the worn-in track “destroys part of the soul” of the park is somewhat presumptive.

We live in a community with lots of people who have lots of ideas of what is beautiful. We don’t all agree, nor should we. I personally believe in the beauty of strong, athletic people of all ages running, riding, and participating at their own level and ability.

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