GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Tour de Gulfport is getting a reputation and based on the 2016 attendance, it's a good one.
"I heard it through friends who race," said Brandon Lawrence from Alabama. "Heard it was a great course. Never been to the town before....coming to check it out and see if I can cause some pain to some people and myself."
Laura Gallagher came from Milton, Fla., to root on her son Jacob, who is competing for the second time.
"It's very nice," Laura said. "The people putting it on are putting on a very good show, keeping all the spectators entertained, and have a good area out here."
For the racers, the race has its own character.
"It's different than every other race," said Jacob Gallagher. "The race is on the water, which means there's more wind. Wind plays a role in how you ride."
The second annual event drew about 130 competitors from several states, and even as far away as the Netherlands. Competitors circled the course, measured at 8/10 of a mile, for a fixed time, up to an hour long.
The eight categories for the amateur racing event ranged from high skill to beginner.
David Parker, director of economic development for the City of Gulfport, decided to give the race a try.
"These guys out here are beasts," Parker said. "They are unbelievable riders. They are from all over four or five states. I would never be in this kind of competition....but, it's fun to go out there and act like one of them."
It was the criterium championship for the Louisiana and Mississippi Bicycle Racing Association that focuses on short, closed-circuit racing. But not everyone attending were in it to win it. Some just wanted to see good sport.
Mark Bradley of New Orleans goes to races all over the country, and returned to Gulfport for the second time.
"It's just a nice short quick ride," Bradley said. "You see the riders pass by every two minutes so there's always something to keep us interested and keep a lookout for."