The event pits athletes with physical disabilities in a relay race from Peek Park up College Street, around Mundy's Lake and back down College Street to end. The race will take about an hour.
"It's a team relay race, the first one to be held in the U.S.," competitor Jeff Snover, of Augusta, said. "There are three people on a team, all classified by level of diability (H-1, H-2, H-3 and H-4). Each member of the team has a different classification."
Snover said he competes in Class 3, which is for athletes who have full use of their upper body but are paralyzed from the waist down.
Class 1 is for athletes with the greatest level of physical disability, such as spinal chord injuries, affecting all four limbs of the body, Snover explained. Class 2 is for athletes who are able to use their arms well but have paralysis from the lower chest through the lower body. Class 4 covers a wide category of athlets, including amputees and persons with cerebral palsy, for example.
The race is different from the annual wheelchair race held in Cedartown ever summer. In addition to physical difference in the design of the vehicles used, the main difference is in the manner of propulsion.
Wheelchair racers spin the wheels with their hands, much like a medical wheelchair is operated. A third, front wheel provides balance.
But a handcycle typically is powered and steered by the front wheel, through a hand crank. The two rear wheels are "coasting" wheels.
The event tonight is sanctioned by the U.S. Handcycling Federation.
Cedartown is Stage One of a five-part series. Stage Two will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at The Farm, 3115 Big Texas Valley Road, near Rome. It is a 36-mile road race.
The other events will be held Saturday and Sunday in Rome.
Stage Three is a hill climb up Lavender Mountain, and begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Fouche Gap Road and Big Texas Valley Road.
Stage Four is sponsored by Rome's Downtown Business Improvement District. The race begins at 6 p.m. behind Harvest Moon and Mellow Mushroom.
Stage Five is an individual time trial event. It will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday on Technology Parkway in Rome.