Pedal to the medal on Sep. 9-11
By Maranda Bailo
It's a crisp September evening in Cleveland, as bicyclists stretch their hammies, clasp their helmets, and gather their thoughts, all in preparation for the nation's biggest urban cycling festival. NEOCycle is back in CLE for its third year, on Sep. 9-11.
Saturday's Night Ride, where bikers will take off at Edgewater Park, pedaling all along Lake Erie and cruising into the sunset sky with more than 2,000 other glowing cyclists, is a highlight for many.
What happens after burning all those calories? The celebration, of course! Riders finish up at the Hub at Edgewater Park, where it's time to par-tay.
Great accomplishments come with even better parties. Picture this: all your favorite, active, go-getter cyclists, with the best summer brews, crazy good food, rock 'n' roll jams, and entertainment like the Ultimate Air Dogs to keep you tapping your toes all night long.
Did we mention that’s where you’ll be able to find the live music stage, up to 10 food trucks each day and tons of suds from Fat Head’s Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing and SweetWater Brewing? Because, you know, you'll be thirsty from all that biking and dancing.
Even if you're not racing, this fest offers plenty of other fun stuff for you to do. Get your zen on at Epic Yoga, a one hour flowing yoga session for all levels. Breathing breaks aren't your thing? Then get up and get moving on the Slow Roll Cleveland, a free 6-7 mile bike ride around Edgewater and Ohio City.
You'll also spot mechanical bull riding, rock climbing, stand up paddleboard racing and demos, giant board games, mini golf, live ice carving demonstrations, thriller BMX Team.... need I say more?
For a full list of activities and entertainment, click here.
The heart and soul of the festival is in the six core cycling events that’ll take place over the weekend in a variety of happening Cleveland locations.
Velodrome – Friday, Sept. 9
Friday night races at the Cleveland Velodrome are all the rage around these parts. Get in on the high-speed action at this fully equipped velodrome complex – the only one of its kind in Ohio – just east of Downtown Cleveland in Slavic Village. For those who’ve never experienced a velodrome, it’s an arena for track cycling featuring steeply banked oval tracks consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights. Surrounding the track and on the infield is spectator seating. Pretty intense, eh?
Night Ride – Saturday, Sept. 10
Downtown Cleveland is undergoing a rather epic transformation. And, we can’t think of a more exhilarating way to experience the energy of Downtown than to see it all lit up while on a night ride around the city with about 2,250 of your closest cycling buds. The ride, which is open to adults and children of varying levels of expertise, starts and ends at The Hub and provides spectacular views of both Downtown Cleveland and a beautiful Lake Erie sunset. Even better: every rider gets his or her own glowing tube wrap light, as well as a free T-shirt.
Fundo – Saturday, Sept. 10
A gran fundo for everyone ranging from beginners to pros? Sounds good to us. The MCPc Fundo features 10-, 32- or 62-mile non-competitive courses that wind through some of Cleveland’s hottest neighborhoods, artsy communities and eclectic Downtown districts. Rest assured, the untimed mass ride will have plenty of (FUN) rest stop areas, as well as a broom wagon helping riders with any difficulties they may incur.
Criterium – Saturday, Sept. 10
Okay. This is when things get real. Criterium – or “Crit” as you extremists called it – is an event for serious cyclists. The highly competitive speed race is held on a short (less than one mile) course in Cleveland. If this isn't your gig, no worries: this race is perfect for spectators, as the riders make continuous laps, creating an exciting and entertaining environment.
Mountain Bike – Saturday, Sept. 10
Attack a course of challenging climbs and fun descents. In partnership with Cleveland Metroparks Outdoor Recreation, NEOCycle brings the excitement of Mountain Bike Racing at the Bedford Reservation to the nation's largest urban, cycling festival. The course will utilize Bedford singletrack, sections of the all-purpose trails, and small portions of the road and will be approximately 12 miles in length.
Edgewater Cyclocross – Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 10 & 11
Cyclocrosses – with their use of obstacles, steps and steep hills that require riders to dismount and run with their bikes – are already challenging and fun-to-watch events. But the Edgewater Cyclocross promises to be unique, as it will utilize many of the natural elements in Edgewater Beach as well as some man-made ones along the way.
Stay tuned for updates on the 2015 location of the NEOCycle Crit.
If you know what’s good for you, jump, snap and jam your way to NEOCycle’s registration site to get signed up. You can register for each individual event based on what you want to do, so you’re not locked into every event or race. Registration includes an official Night Ride shirt and tube wrap bike wrap.