Unique urban cycling event returns for a second year

Thousands of cyclists and bike enthusiasts will descend on Cleveland from September 11th-13th for the second annual NEOCycle, an urban cycling festival that offers races, rides, concerts and other events.

The event is the first and only urban cycling festival in the country, according to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the organizer behind the event. “We wanted to create a cycling festival that brought different races and rides together,” explains communications manager Nick VanDemark.  “It was incredibly successful in our first year – we went way past the goals we set. There’s a lot of positive momentum around the cycling community and infrastructure in town.”
Last year almost 2,700 people registered for five different race events and 10,000 came to Edgewater Park for the live music. This year, organizers are hoping to register 4,000 cyclists.
The center of activity takes place at the event's Hub at Edgewater Park. Two stages will feature 25 bands over the course of the weekend and there will be food trucks, vendors, activities and a beer garden with four craft breweries. Admission to the Hub is free.
This year, VanDemark says organizers hope to grow the event even more. Competitive races include the Velodrome – high speed track racing -- on Friday, September 11th at the Cleveland Velodrome, and the Cyclocross, in which riders will navigate the crowds and other obstacles in a race around Edgewater Park, on Saturday, September 12th.

The Fundo, an un-timed ride for cyclists of all ages and ability levels, will take place on Sunday, September 13th. Proceeds from the Fundo go to Bike Cleveland, an organization dedicated to making the streets safer for biking and walking. The Criterium, also on Sunday, is a fast-paced race in partnership with Case Cycling that will travel through closed city streets in Battery Park.
“It’s a great collaborative event for a lot of people in cycling,” says VanDemark of the races.
The signature biking event is the Night Ride. The event takes place Saturday evening and offers spectacular views of the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie as more than 2,000 cyclists ride down the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway in costume and glow lights. “It’s an eight-and-a-half mile course that anyone can do,” says VanDemark. “It’s an awesome visual scene to see thousands of bikes whizzing through downtown on the Shoreway.”
For those more inclined to hit the lake, NEOCycle has teamed up with Nalu Standup Paddle and Surf for standup paddleboard races, lessons and demos throughout the weekend. There are two mile and four mile races, plus a one mile kids’ race on Saturday, and a three-quarter mile buoy race on Sunday.
Registration is required for all of the NEOCycle races.
Even if biking is not your thing, there's plenty to do at NEOCycle, says VanDemark. “There are a couple of ways to get involved, even if you’re not a biker. There’s something there for just about anyone, whether you’re a cyclist or not.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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