Apr 19, 2022 - Business

Mountain bikers to compete in U.S. Pro Cup at Centennial Park

A cyclist racing competitors jumps off a rock wall on his bike.
Elite pros take on the rock drop in last year's race. Photo courtesy of U.S. Pro Cup

Olympic-level mountain bikers will be in Northwest Arkansas this week.

What's happening: For the second consecutive year, Centennial Park will host the U.S. Pro Cup, featuring pro and amateur cross-country mountain bike races. The races start Wednesday and run through Sunday in Fayetteville.

  • It's family-friendly and free.

Why it matters: Hosting professional-level cycling events brings international attention to NWA as a cycling destination. It also allows Fayetteville to get maximum usage from Centennial Park, a $3.3 million project that was built specifically for cyclo-cross racing.

Flashback: Last year, more than 1,300 competitors attended the event, which was held over two weekends.

  • They came from more than 35 states and Mexico, Canada, Columbia, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, Hazel Hernandez, vice president of communications for Experience Fayetteville, told Axios.
  • The economic impact of that weekend is estimated to be more than $500,000, Hernandez said.

How to watch: Most of the races will weave back into the woods around Centennial Park, but will use man-made rock features on the cyclo-cross track with an "ominous rock drop" (see photo).

  • The rock drop is a great place to spectate, Brannon Pack, director of cycling tourism for Experience Fayetteville, tells us. "That's going to be a rowdy little spot," he said. "Bring the cowbells — let's make some noise."
  • Plus, there's always the start/finish line.

The schedule:

  • Wednesday is a full day of junior men and women professional races.
  • There's no racing on Thursday.
  • Short-track racing on Friday will be a fun watch because spectators can see most of the track, and it's non-stop action, Pack said.
  • Saturday and Sunday mornings are amateur races.
  • Saturday afternoon is for the elite juniors, and Sunday afternoon is for elite men and women.

What's next: A handful of upcoming NWA cycling events:

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