Well I am sure you have seen the 15 passenger fans all logo-ed up with bikes galore on top, cruising around town. Some of the most talented bicycle racers in the country have made the annual pilgrimage to the Ozarks for the Joe Martin Stage Race. The professionals will tackle four stages. Starting with the Individual Time Trial (ITT) at Devil’s Den State Park Thursday afternoon. The course is the exit that heads north out of the park on 170. Basically 2.7 miles up hill. Anywhere on the hill particularly close to the finish will be some great viewing of pain faces. You are encouraged to enter the park from the north on 170 since parking is limited in the park. Racing begins at 1pm.
On Friday the PRO men, women & men 1-2’s will tackle some serious Ozark terrain. The men will ride a 110 mile course, south down 59 to Rudy then north on 71 up and over Mt. Gaylor. They usually finish between 5:30-6:30 in a bunch sprint riding east up Dickson Street. It is a spectacle to be seen. Dickson Street is one of my favorite streets on the planet and offers some great watering holes for spectating. The outdoor deck at The Puritan Brew Co. looks to be just about the perfect spot to enjoy some happy hour action and watch the racers finish.
On Saturday they start and finish out in Prairie Grove. The racers will tackle what the locals call “The Wall” on 156 each lap of a 23 mile loop. The Wall is a good place to spectate. You might have trouble with parking because it is also a feed zone. I imagine the sprint finish into Prairie Grove is another great place to watch.
But the best viewing of all the events is on Sunday. As the racers will be on a 1.1 mile loop in downtown Fayetteville for the criterium. The racing starts at 8am with the first amateur categories. The professional women and men start later in the day at 12 and at 2. There is also a free kids race at 1:15. There will be many great spots to view the race. I recommend you walk around and watch the racers negotiate some of the corners on this very technical course. Lap after lap they will tackle the hill on Church Street which has been renamed by the locals as Church
Hill Hell. This is a great place to view the race as the riders begin to wear down lap after lap. There is normally a rowdy group of spectators who call themselves The Friends of Church Hill armed with cowbells, bacon and Bloody Mary’s. Word on the street is that The Friends of Church Hill will be out in full force with Bloody’s, beers & 25lbs! of Smithfield bacon. All friends of cycling are welcome. The Mustache is having a watch party from 11:30-3:30. They are located on the downtown square. Bring your family, chair, beverage of choosing and some snacks. Also The Handle Bar a bike, coffee & beer shop on Block Ave. is having a watch party. The Puritan Brew Co. (not normally open on Sunday) is going to open their outdoor deck serving up beer & coffee for spectators until 2pm. Folks get outside with the family, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and some top shelf bicycle racing.
For a schedule of events click here.
To see more information on prime viewing spots for all events click here.
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