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Republicans Look to Repeat Cycling Challenge Win

Whitlock, left and Hershman, second from right, will lead their party's teams. (Courtesy of Douglas Graham)

This Sunday's Congressional Cycling Challenge could be an easy win for the Republican team.
The challenge ride is a closed-course, 15-km trip around the Pentagon, Crystal City and the Air Force Memorial. Unlike a traditional race, the winner is determined by who has the most laps completed in three hours. The total number of laps by Hill participants are tallied by race officials, and the party with the most laps gets to take home the bragging rights.

Last year the Republicans beat the Democrats by a single lap. This year, the Democrats ride at a disadvantage with only a handful of participants to more than a dozen Republicans registered for the race.
Greg Hershman, team captain for the Democrats, said in an email that, "everyone on the team is looking forward to competing and putting up as many laps against the Republicans as we can -- but above all else, we plan to have a fun ride."
Rodney Whitlock, health policy director for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is the team captain for the Republicans this year. Last year, his son biked with him. In a phone interview, Whitlock called the event "unique and incredible," to see "1500 bikes choking the roads, with no cars around."
This weekend's Air Force Association Cycling Classic spans both Saturday and Sunday. Started in 1998 with the Clarendon Cup, the event has since expanded to a whole weekend of biking. The region's premier biking event, some of the world's top professional cyclists will race on Saturday in the Pro/Am races.
The proceeds from the event benefit the Air Force Association's Wounded Airman Program. The program provides a number of different types of aide to wounded airmen, including financial assistance, caregiving, and lifestyle and accessibility items.
It isn't too late for a last-minute surge for the Democrats. Although online registration is closed, the Congressional Challenge is still accepting applicants for both parties. In-person registration will be available Friday from noon to 6pm in the lobby of Boeing Headquarters 929 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington, Va., or at the Registration Tent near the Start/Finish line at 2011 Crystal Drive between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. All members of the Hill community are welcome to join.