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Road Cycling and Music Extravaganza Ramping Up in North Carolina

The 8th year of the annual Winston-Salem Cycling Classic will be taking place on Friday, September 9th alongside the local Gears & Guitars festival. Ahead of the event are efforts to secure big-name bands such as headline acts Dawes, Tonic, and Better than Ezra. Supporting the event is a swath of volunteers and vendors from the local community. There are many individuals and businesses working in tandem to make everything run smoothly, such as a loaner bicycle that had been borrowed from Ken’s Bike Shop for former pro-Robbie Ventura.

Collegiate national champion Mark Hardman racing at an event in Winston-Salem.

Collegiate national champion Mark Hardman racing at an event in Winston-Salem.

Winston-Salem is the fifth largest city in North Carolina and is located in the heart of the state’s Piedmont region. The city was founded in 1766 and has a rich history as a center for tobacco production and manufacturing. Today, Winston-Salem is home to a diverse population of over 241,000 people and is known for its lively arts scene, delicious food, and beautiful parks and green spaces. There are numerous colleges in the area, along with an ever-growing music industry closely tied to the art scene. Music in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is a rich and varied experience. The city has a long history of producing talented musicians, and there are many different genres represented here -- from classical to jazz to rock and roll, there is something for everyone.

Live performances in Bailey Park Friday, Saturday and Sunday are free this weekend.

Bicycling is also a healthy industry in the area, so the mixture between music and bikes is not as unnatural as it appears. The city has over 30 miles of greenway trails, many of which are located along the scenic Yadkin River. There are also several on-street bike lanes, and the city is working to increase the number of these in the coming years. The mild climate makes it possible to ride year-round, and there are plenty of places to park your bike if you need to stop for a break. Whether you're a casual rider or an avid cyclist, Winston-Salem has something to offer.

Sterling Swaim, the chairman of the National Cycling Center labels the event as the “Biggest Party on Two Wheels," and further expanded that, “It looks good for Friday. We’ll see about Saturday and Sunday” regarding the weather reports. Although many seasoned road cyclists are prepared to race through the rain, incelement weather takes a toll on electronics used in concerts and dampens the mood for music-goers.

Civic boosters and elected officials in Winston-Salem, North Carolina are touting a three-story building on North Liberty Street as the future home of a National Cycling Center. The center was envisioned in 2016 as a training Mecca for elite athletes and an economic engine for the region. Mayor Allen Joines says the center will bring national attention and focus to the community in a very positive way.

However, the National Cycling Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has been delayed due to a lack of funding. The center was originally supposed to open in 2017 but has yet to do so. The project has been hampered by the loss of affiliation with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Without this affiliation, the project has lost a significant amount of funding. As a result, the center has been forced to delay its opening indefinitely.

Swaim commented on the matter by saying, “Unfortunately there will be no more (Olympic) training centers whether it’s wrestling, gymnastics, or cycling ... (The National Cycling Center) is more than just the building on Chestnut Street. We’re still planning on (opening). It’s just down the road a bit.”

This year’s Winston-Salem Cycling Classic will include Friday night “Streets of Fire” competitions—racing down Fourth Street—amateur racers and professionals competing in criteriums all day Saturday, and community activities such as the Fondo rides Sunday morning. The Fondo rides are non-competitive cycling events in which participants can choose from distances ranging from 65 miles to more manageable 15- and 7-mile routes down the city’s Long Branch Trail greenway to Salem Lake.

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