Festivities in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Cycle NC Mountain Ride & Festival
When: Saturday, Aug. 2 and Sunday, Aug. 3
Races begin at 8 a.m. both days
Festival 3-9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Morse Park Meadows in Lake Lure
More info: cnc.ncsports.org
Hundreds of cyclists will descend upon Rutherford County when Cycle North Carolina comes to Lake Lure this Saturday and Sunday for the inaugural Mountain Ride.
The two-day cycling event created exclusively for the area is expected to draw nearly 400 cyclists who will participate in 30, 60 or 100-mile routes.
In 2012, Lake Lure hosted the first stop on Cycle North Carolina's Mountains to Coast Fall Ride. The positive feedback from cyclists and the ease with which it was to work with the town and locals prompted Cycle North Carolina to choose Lake Lure for its Mountain Ride destination.
"From the moment we arrived in Lake Lure, we knew it was a perfect stop for our participants during the Mountains to Coast tour," said Cycle NC Ride Director Ragan Williams, in a statement. "The hospitality, entertainment, multitude of lodging options, exquisite camping area, friendliness of the locals, wonderful attractions and the scenic beauty put Lake Lure at the top of our list when considering adding an additional event. Our cyclists loved the experience and can't wait to return for an extended stay."
The Mountain Ride is modeled similar to the Coastal Ride (previously known as the Spring Ride) and races begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Making Lake Lure their base camp, cyclists will stay at local lodgings and nearly 100 riders will camp out in tents at Morse Park Meadows.
"The event is great for all of Rutherford County because it brings a new audience to our area," said Michelle Yelton of McConnell Group PR. "And it's not just happening in Lake Lure. Even though that's where the cyclists' base camp will be for the weekend, their rides will take them through downtown Rutherfordton, too."
On Saturday afternoon and evening, cyclists and the general public can also enjoy the Mountain Ride Festival featuring live bands like Circus Mutt and Wiregrass, a beer and spirits garden including Blue Ridge Distilling Co. and Catawba Brewing Co., food vendors and more. The festival will be held at Morse Park Meadows from 3-9 p.m. and attendance is free. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome, but no coolers.
"When the cyclists came through on the first overnight stop in 2012, Ragan Williams said typically towns will do something to welcome the riders to the area," Yelton said. "So that year we decided to put on a festival to welcome them and it turned out to be a lot more than what other towns had done. The cyclists were so enamored with Lake Lure and the race organizers loved it so much that they created this event, the Mountain Ride, just for Lake Lure."
Yelton said the Town of Lake Lure wanted to ensure it hosted another welcoming festival like the one in 2012 for the cyclists.
"Cycle North Carolina participants have a wonderful, positive spirit and an enjoyment of the outdoors that is infectious," said Lake Lure Town Manager Chris Braund, in a statement. "We welcome them back to stay a little longer in our area to explore the surrounding mountains, farm valleys and hospitality of the Hickory Nut Gorge."
Vendor and volunteer opportunities are still available for the races and festival by contacting Yelton at firstname.lastname@example.org or Heather Meech at email@example.com.
Cyclists can also still register for the race(s) online at cnc.ncsports.org or by stopping by the welcome center in Lake Lure on Friday from 5-7 p.m.
"We hope this will be an annual cycling event," Yelton said. "It's one of those great marketing opportunities where you have a captive audience that you know is going to be in the area. It's an ideal way to market all the things we have to offer."