- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

Hundreds of bicyclists are expected to pedal their way this evening from the University of Maryland campus to downtown College Park in support of a bicycle shop that was heavily damaged a month ago in celebratory riots after the NCAA men's basketball championship.

College Park Bicycles, which has been in operation on Knox Road for 23 years, was the most severely damaged of the town's businesses when hundreds of jubilant fans rioted after the Maryland Terrapins defeated the Indiana University Hoosiers in the national championship in Atlanta on April 1.

The shop's owner, Larry Black, has scheduled today's 6 p.m. "Peace Ride" to "showcase how great College Park is for work, study, shopping, business, play and especially cycling." The event will include a block party with guest speakers.

Rowdy fans caused about $35,000 worth of damage to the bicycle shop, broke eight large windows and stole more than 30 bikes. When store manager Chad Kayser tried to stop the looters, he was pelted with rocks and clubbed by rioting Terrapin supporters.

"Was there any need for this?" asks Mr. Black, 51, a graduate of the university. "While we as alumni and supporters of the school for three decades enjoyed the game, we stand bewildered and frustrated that such activity needed to happen."

Well-behaved fans and police officers found and returned all but 15 of the stolen bicyles. Police arrested four persons on charges of breaking and entering and theft. Mr. Kayser was treated and released at a hospital. He still had bruises two weeks later.

Mr. Black, a widely known bicyle expert, received dozens of sympathetic and outraged e-mails and letters from customers and friends in Australia; Austria; Germany; San Diego; Portland, Ore.; and Paducah, Ky.

Since then, new windows have been installed, Mr. Kayser and other personnel are back on the job, and Mr. Black, who also owns and operates a bicycle shop in Mount Airy, Md., came up with the idea of a "Peace Ride."

Bill Kelly, 63, a retired D.C. firefighter and Mr. Black's friend since 1988, agreed to organize the ride. Mr. Kelly is leader of the College Park Area Bicycle Coalition.

This evening's ride will circle the university campus, continue on Paint Branch Parkway, then follow the Anacostia River Trail past Lake Artemesia and head back past the historic College Park Airport, the oldest airfield in the United States in continuous operation, which was used by two early bicycling pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Invited guests and participants include Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who has lived much of his life in College Park; University President C.D. Mote; College Park Mayor Michael J. Jacobs; the men's basketball players; and coach Gary Williams. The university's cheerleaders also have agreed to attend.

Helping support the event are other businesses including Smoothie King, Cornerstone Grill, Wawa, Java Cafe, Ratsies and Bikini Splash.

"I love bicycles," says Mr. Black, who earned a fine arts degree in photography but indulged his lifelong interest in bicycles as his profession. "It's a great way to chase what you love."

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