FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Biking enthusiasts should prepare now for their annual shot to participate in the 10.5-mile West Beach Out and Back Road Bike race Feb. 20.

Registration for the race is ongoing and costs $15. Those who preregister will receive a T-shirt. Race-day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at Lake Tholocco's West Beach parking lot. The top three male and female competitors garner trophies.

All riders must bring their own helmets and wear them at all times during the race.

The event, hosted by Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff, begins at 9 a.m. at West Beach and proceeds down Johnson Road to Christian Road, according to Caroline Driscoll, DFMWR fitness program coordinator.

Bikers turn right on Christian and left on Traffic Minder Road, reaching the Lowe Army Airfield gate - the turnaround point.

Due to the race, traffic on these roads will be closed from about 8:55 to 10 a.m., Driscoll said.
Last year, more than 60 people participated in the second running of the event. Driscoll said DFMWR staff members organize the race because few bike races occur in this area and the course follows the exact one used for June's Sgt. Audie Murphy Triathlon, providing triathletes a practice run.

Driscoll describes the course as very hilly, providing bikers a challenge, something last year's champion and All-Armed Forces triathlete Nick Dason concurred.

"It's a difficult course ... especially for this area," he said. "It's a short race, so you have to get after it from the get-go."

Because of the challenge it provides, Driscoll and Dason encourage those interested to participate.

"If you're any type of competitor, you should jump into any race because it'll improve your fitness," Dason said.

Since the course follows hilly terrain and provides athletes a challenge, Driscoll advises participants to limit strenuous activity the day before and eat a good complex carbohydrate meal that night.

For more information, call DFMWR at 255-3794.