Upon completing the 52nd edition of the Albitibi Cycling Tour (Tour de L’Abitibi), which took place July 11-17 in the city of Amos, Quebec, George Rand viewed his first appearance in the vaunted event as a success.
“I didn’t have any crashes on my part, which was great,” the 17-year-old Chestnut Street resident who is entering his senior year at Dexter Southfield School in Brookline said Monday from Canada. “It was six days on seven stages and one day with double stages.”
Representing the U.S. as a member of the STK Cycling Club, George placed in the top 30 in general classification (i.e. time spent riding across every stage) in the international event, included in the UCI Junior Nations Cup. Racers, ages 17 and 18, competed in the event to complete 700 kilometers in seven days. It’s one of the most prestigious junior cycling events in the world, as well as the only event of its kind presented in North America.
A lifelong resident of Beacon Hill and an alum of the Park Street School, George began cycling during the pandemic, taking spins around the Esplanade on his family’s folding “city” bike in the spring of 2020. “I found it really enjoyable and thought it was really good exercise,” he said of his newfound pastime.
By that fall, he had earned enough money from his summer job at Bartlett Farm on Nantucket to buy a road bike, which he began regularly riding to school in Brookline. His brother, Arthur, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and had previously been a pro bicyclist, had lent George one of his road bikes. George rode his brother’s old bike until he purchased his own – a Specialized Venge.
George soon began regularly participating in local criteriums, or circuit races, and it was during one of these events in Wompatuck State Park, located south of Boston, where he beat Tim Mitchell, a member of the CCB pro team.
Mitchell would later lend George the timer trial bike that George used when he qualified for the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships, which took place from June 26 to July 2 in Roanoke, Va. George placed in the top 20 out of 82 participants in both the Time Trial and Criterium events, which helped earn him an invitation to compete in this year’s Tour de L’Abitibi.
George, who extends his gratitude to his team director, Bill Elliston, now plans to participate in criteriums for the rest of the season. He also intends to take part in the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in New Hampshire on Saturday, Aug. 20 and possibly in the Green Mountain Stage Race the following month.
Asked what advice he would offer to other to other aspiring competitive bicyclists, George responded: “Do it for fun to begin with. Going to races, meeting people, and making connections will get you really far in this sport.”
But George also admonishes would-be bicyclists that it’s a demanding sport, albeit an enjoyable one.
“It’s a really tough sport so it’s important to have fun while you’re doing it,” he said. “And there are so many different parts of the sport – cycling is just one. There are plenty of ways to have fun on a bike.”