NEW PORT RICHEY — Jared Zimlin's work is paying off.
As president of Gearlink Racing, Zimlin is responsible for overseeing the organization of one of the state's premier cycling events in downtown New Port Richey, the Gearlink Cup. After the inaugural event in 2010, the race garnered so much respect from the cycling community that it became a Florida Cup event.
"Most of the other clubs seem to like our course," Zimlin said. "At the promoters' meeting in the fall they upgraded our event to cup status. It's proof that our race is growing and that the racers really like it. This event is going to grow in prestige because we have the support of the city and if we can keep it going and make it into a long-term event, then riders from around the state will get used to it and always come out for it."
Zimlin was one of the original 11 who decided to keep Gearlink alive after the club's founder returned to his home in Europe three years ago. After being elected president of the club in 2008, Zimlin set about taking Gearlink to the next level. Through the Gearlink Cup, he has turned the club into a brand name.
"From last year to now the club's membership has increased significantly," Zimlin said. "When we put together last year's Gearlink Cup, a lot of people who were thinking of getting into racing or joining a team started to come and talk to us because they realized we were organized.
"It's a team effort. I'm the head barker, I suppose, but there is no way that you can put together all of this, from accounting to uniform design without a lot of people being on board."
After feedback from other cycling groups, Zimlin decided to move the event from Labor Day weekend to the spring.
The second annual Gearlink Cup took place on Sunday with just over 300 riders in attendance. Gearlink Racing was well represented in its home race with the majority of its 85-member organization participating. While there is no advantage for the home team in terms of the track, there is in the number of them involved.
"It may look like an individual sport but there are so many tactics used to achieve results," Gearlink racer Vince Cook said. "We typically have four or five guys in any given category so we have to work together. There's discussion beforehand about what we want to do when we get into the race. It doesn't always come together, but teamwork is important in races like this."
The course was kept the same, running throughout downtown and around Orange Lake in an sprint of eight-tenths of a mile.
"This is a nice little downtown and a perfect area for a race," said Parrish Clark of Naples Cyclery. "There is a lot of sidewalk and shaded space for spectators, which is nice because you can bring your family to it. There is a lot of parking close to the race route so people have their RV or campers set up, and there is a great atmosphere around the place. This is one of the nicer events around."