Two different cycling events this week will cater to both amateurs and experienced riders, as NWA continues its push to become a top community for bicycling.
What's happening: The Natural State Criterium Series kicks off in downtown Springdale Wednesday evening for competitive cyclists. It's the first time the event will be held entirely in Springdale.
- The Rogers Cycling Festival will be held Saturday afternoon, geared toward laid-back bike riders.
Why it matters: Both rides are examples of cycling-centric events and businesses driving a subtle, but noticeable, economic and cultural shift in Northwest Arkansas.
- The two events appeal to diverse audiences, which helps draw broader awareness to cycling.
Criterium details: The series will be held Wednesday evenings — July 14, July 28, August 11 and August 18 — beginning at 5pm in downtown Springdale for the three-quarter-mile course.
- The first event will offer a "first chance" category for those interested but not yet experienced in competitive cycling.
- All races are sanctioned by USA Cycling and require a membership or a one-day pass, available at the event.
- Race fees range from $15 to $100.
Festival details: Groups take off at 1pm Saturday, and a concert featuring The Uncrowned Kings will be held at the finish line near the Butterfield Stage in downtown Rogers.
- Participants can choose from either an 8-mile ride or a 16-mile loop, all in Rogers.
- The entire course is on the Razorback Regional Greenway.
- Riders over 10 years old pay an entry fee. Five dollars for the 8-mile ride, and $10 for the 16-miler.
Context: In years past, the Rogers Cycling Festival catered to competitive riders and lasted three days.
- Organizers decided scaling back to one day and offering a shorter family-fun ride was more reflective of the type of riders in Rogers, Ross Phillips of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce told Axios.
By the numbers: The festival races in years past drew 650 to 800 participants. This year Phillips expects 200-300 riders.
- All proceeds from the festival are donated to nonprofit cycling-related causes in NWA, such as Pedal It Forward.
Of note: Pedal It Forward will host the Filmed by Bike tour, a collection of films about bikes, at the Rogers Victory Theater on Saturday, July 17. Tickets are $15.
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