With the 2013 Providence Cyclo-cross Festival in the books, the feedback is pouring in and the consensus is that this year’s event was a resounding success. The building blocks for the event’s growth were laid this year and will be built upon when the Festival returns. The 2014 Providence Cyclo-cross Festival is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of October 3-5, 2014. Some of this year’s highlights include-
New England Bike/Walk Summit-The weekend opened on Friday as the Providence Biltmore hosted the bi-annual New England Bike Walk Summit. This year’s event featured League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke delivering the opening speech at a reception attended by Mayor Angel Taveras and R.I. Congressman David Cicciline (D-RI). Keith Laughlin, President of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, delivered the keynote speech to a crowd of 215 advocates.
Builders Ball – The Biltmore also hosted Friday evening’s sold out Builders Ball in the Grand Ballroom on the hotel’s 17th floor, overlooking downtown Providence. The event saw 535 attendees presented with the finest in New England craftsmanship, with displays from 22 bicycle and accessory manufacturers. The impact of this event has grown to such an extent that Saratoga Frameworks, the remnants of the Serotta manufacturing legacy, chose the Builders Ball to debut their newest three models.
Racing/Clinics – The Providence Cyclo-cross Festival also opened on Friday this year, adding an additional day of racing to accommodate the growing fields and the Cycle Smart and LUNA Chix ‘cross clinics. 54 men raced in the Zanconato Single Speed Cyclocross Series, won by Craig Etheridge (Raleigh/Clement). Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) won the Women’s event. 36 teams of 2 entered the first ever cyclo-cross Madison, the velodrome discipline transplanted to the urban setting of Roger Williams Park. Tommy and Manny Goguen (Team CF.org) won the overall.
Adam Myerson hosted 15 students for his Cycle-Smart clinic and 30 women participated in the LUNA Chix ‘Cross Clinic.
Saturday’s Category 1 Providence International raised the bar in terms of field size for the event, with over 1,000 entered to race. Spectator numbers for the day put the crowd at the 8,000 in Roger Williams Park, a number vastly increased when the audience for the cyclingdirt.org livestream and the Behind the Barriers special are factored in.
The ‘cross family gathered for a silent lap in honor of Amy Dombroski, killed in a tragic accident in Belgium only days earlier. It was a moving tribute, literally, to a popular, talented cyclist taken in her prime. The UCI Junior Elite event featured a fine performance from Peter Goguen (CF Racing.org) racing on his home turf and on a course he assisted in designing. Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) repeated last year’s win and the women’s event featured a start line that would not be out of place at a World Cup event. Katerina Nash (LUNA Chix) took the hard earned victory.
Sunday started early for riders in the inaugural Gran Fondo New England, as 200 riders rolled out of Roger Williams Park, led out under rainy skies by Ted King of the Cannondale Pro Cycling team. Riders rode one of three courses, ranging from 34 to 104 miles before returning to Roger Williams to spectate. Over 1,000 riders raced again on Sunday. Nash repeated her victory from Saturday, while Belgian Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) took a two man sprint against Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com).
Expo/Food Court-The Providence Cyclo-cross Festival featured a sold out expo and food court in the event infield. 45 vendors displayed goods ranging from the latest in high tech toys from the large manufacturers to the collage art of Doug Dale, member of the Raleigh Boys, the groundbreaking team that opened the door for American cyclists in Europe in the ‘70’s.
Divine Youth-As part of the Divine Youth initiative, the Little Bellas Mentoring on Mountain Bikes program introduced forty girls to the sport through games and q & a’s with professional riders. In a first for the program, all forty entries were funded by Whole Foods scholarships, riding on donated bikes and wearing helmets provided by the Providence YMCA. Thirteen young mechanics experienced life in the pits first-hand as part of the Divine Tech program.
Media-The Providence Journal highlighted the Festival in the week preceding the event and featured an article on Eric Weis and his efforts in promoting the New England Bike/Walk Summit. Richard Fries and Meredith Miller joined hostess Michaela Johnson on the WPRI Rhode Show on Thursday. Fries returned to the airwaves on WBRU on Friday, along with Jeremy Powers and Helen Wyman. Powers popular online series, Behind the Barriers, featured Providence in an hour long special, hosted by Colt McElwaine and Michael Creed. Cyclingdirt streamed the live broadcast from Providence with the action called by Kevin McRee and veteran announcer Larry Longo.
The sixth annual Providence Cyclo-cross Festival is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 3-5, 2014, at Roger Williams Park. For more information and updates, visit www.providencecrossfest.com.