HomeNewsHundreds of cyclists, families attend race at Pugh Bourne Park

Hundreds of cyclists, families attend race at Pugh Bourne Park

Pugh Bourne Park in Oakfield was a busy place this past weekend as it hosted between 500 and 600 young cyclists for a Tennessee Interscholastic Cycling League (TICL) event.

Matt Joiner, a member of the Jackson Fire Department and local cycling enthusiast, coordinated the effort in 2020-21 to pave about 4.5 miles of bike trails in the wooded area in the back of the park. He said events like Sunday’s race is the reason he wanted to do it.

“I moved up here and was looking for places to ride, and I expected there to be more,” Joiner said. “And I was looking online at the terrain here, and I thought this would be a perfect place to put some trails.”

He went to the Madison County Parks and Recreation Department and the Conservation Board to ask for permission to put some trails in the woods, and he was allowed to.

He’s friends with the race coordinators for the TICL, and they agreed before the trails were completed that the park in Oakfield would be an ideal place for some trails, particularly for one of their events.

“The state cycling association probably started about 10 years ago and has steadily grown ever since,” Joiner said. “Most of the cyclists are from the larger metropolitan areas, but there are some scattered all over the state.

“Last year was the first year for us to host this event, and we had six or seven cyclists from Jackson to compete. This year we had 10 or more.”

The TICL started with four races in each of the corners of the state. A few years ago they added two more races, for a total of six races throughout the season in which cyclists compete with a point system based on how they finish.

The race in Madison County represents the race for the southwest corner of the state as they moved it from Shelby Farms in Memphis.

“Shelby Farms is a great place to have a race, but it’s a very popular race and it’s difficult to have a race there because so much can be going on there on any given day,” Joiner said. “Plus it’s hard for someone who doesn’t know where everything is to navigate Memphis and Shelby County.

“But Pugh Bourne Park is a great location for parents and cyclists. It’s a straight shot off Interstate 40 less than three miles away. And the facilities at the park – parking lot, bathrooms, other infrastructure and available space for team tents and other things make it an ideal place for a race.”

Joiner said he hoped the people the race attracted to Madison County was a boost to the local economy.

“There were here on Saturday to practice and still here on Sunday for the races,” Joiner said. “We even had people from Memphis who just decided to stay overnight here instead of going home then getting up and coming back.”

But he also hopes the race is a boost for the local cycling scene.

“I don’t know how many people – adults, kids, whatever – know what we have here at Pugh Bourne Park,” Joiner said. “But on Saturday, we had people out here practicing and taking a few practice laps around the trails, and the start/finish line is near the baseball fields.

“There were four games going on Saturday, and I wonder how many of those playing baseball saw all the bikes and cyclists and wondered what they were doing. And if they were to find out, how many of them would want to try it? It’s a sport I’ve enjoyed for years, and I think more would enjoy it if they tried it.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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