Urban Cycling Fest
NEOCycle 2015: Cleveland’s Urban Cycling Festival
By Lexi Hotchkiss
The booming bike culture in Cleveland is no secret. The region benefits from well-organized cycling groups, an abundance of local bike shops, several bike tour companies, accessible bike rental locations and an entire organization dedicated to bike advocacy in Cleveland.
So, it should come as no surprise that the city is hosting one of the Midwest’s only urban cycling festivals, called NEOCycle, Sept. 11–13, 2015.
But this event isn’t just a race to win a couple of hokey medals. This is a full weekend of cycling events, music, food, beer and, of course, rock and roll.
Edgewater Beach at the Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation, which is a massive waterfront park along Lake Erie that’s just a short bike ride from downtown, will transform into “The Hub” during the cycling festival.
Inside The Hub, cyclists and their families can check out a variety of activities, meet several local bike shops and even get the little ones in on the action with a one-mile kid’s fun ride, aptly named the “Kids Cruise.”
Did we mention that’s where you’ll be able to find two live music stages, 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? We digress.
Event organizers are psyched to put on the second year of the festival.
“Last year was fantastic. We exceeded all expectations and goals. Just as an example, we set up to have a night ride with 700 riders, but ended up having 1,500,” Nick VanDemark, Communications Manager at the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, said. “People who had a great experience last year are now telling all their friends and family.”
The heart and soul of the event is in the five core cycling events that’ll take place over the weekend in a variety of happening Cleveland locations.
- Velodrome – Friday, Sept. 11
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?
- Edgewater Cyclocross – Saturday, Sept. 12
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 even more unique, as it will utilize many of the natural elements in Edgewater Beach, as well as some man-made ones along the way.
- Night Ride – Saturday, Sept. 12
Cleveland’s downtown is undergoing a rather epic transformation. And, we can’t think of a more exhilarating way to experience the energy of downtown Cleveland than with 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 – Sunday, Sept. 13
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, non-competitive 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 – Sunday, Sept. 13
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. Not up for a high-speed race? This race is perfect for spectators, as the riders make continuous laps, creating an exciting and entertaining environment.
Stay tuned for updates on the 2015 location of the NEOCycle Crit.
- NEW! Stand-Up Paddleboarding Contests, Demos
New this year, NEOCycle is offering stand-up paddleboarding races, demos and lessons on Lake Erie on Saturday and Sunday.
“We really want to take advantage of Lake Erie,” VanDemark said. “The whole idea is that you’re at this unique festival in the middle of our city, but you’ve got this really gorgeous piece of natural beauty right in front of you, too.”
Open to people of various SUP skill levels, it’ll offer a refreshing respite from the padded bibs and sweaty bike helmets.
If you know what’s good for your, jump, snap and jam your way to NEOCycle’s registration site to get signed up. The good news is that you can register for each individual event – so you’re not locked into every event or race.