A parent runs after her bike racer to get a good photo and to cheer him on. (Kayla Carter/Johnson City Press)
The Saturday night Blue Plum Festival pumped Jimmy Humston up for the Sunday Omnium, during which he won first place in a category-five race.
“I went to Blue Plum last night and it got me ready for this ride,” Humston said.
Humston’s family was cheering for him at the finish line.
“I’ve been riding for about two years,” Humston said. “I just started getting into racing last fall.”
For his fifth race and second win, Humston said he was glad to be back in his hometown.
“It was good to come back and see the family and do what I like to do now,” said Humston, who now lives in Nashville.
The category-five race was one of the first races held Sunday.
At about 2 p.m., children were also invited to zoom around the course.
Most parents were running beside their little racers and cheering them on. Entry was free for children 4-9 years old.
“It’s good for all ages,” said Reneau Dubberley, an Omnium coordinator.
The Johnson City Omnium and a pro/am race blocked off much of downtown for the third and final day of Blue Plum.
“The Blue Plum comes into the equation because they have a festival that brings in spectators that are new to the sport,” Dubberley said. “They can see the sport and learn to appreciate the competition that’s out there and the excitement of watching the race.”
With craft vendors, the food court and a music stage hosting a revival, Dubberley said the festival helps promote the sport.
“That brings people in to learn about bike racing as well as the people who already know about bike racing,” Dubberley said.
He said bike racing is a sport for all ages and packs as much excitement as a NASCAR race.
“It’s a tremendous sport,” he said. “It’s exciting. They are coming by at 40 miles per hour. They blow you back. It’s just a really exciting spectator sport. ”
Dubberley said he enjoys organizing the event so both racers and fans have a great time.
“The point is getting enough racers in here,” Dubberley said. “Last year we brought in over 700 guests and racers.”
Racers from all over the United States come to race in the Johnson City Omnium.
“It brings people into our area,” Dubberley said.
Ben Rasnick, who also competed in the category-five race, agreed that the Tri-Cities Road Club and Blue Plum partnership is a positive for the Johnson City community.
“It brings a lot of money in for the club,” Rasnick said. “It brings a lot of money in for the city itself because there are thousands of riders that come and a lot of pros come in. It’s good income for the city.”