Mount Airy is officially an overnight stop on the 2014 Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” route through the state.
State Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker on Monday announced the city’s inclusion on the route.
An expected 1,100 Cycle North Carolina participants will arrive in the area on Sept. 28, which is the Sunday after Mayberry Days. The sixteenth-annual cross-state bicycle tour is scheduled to travel from Alleghany High School in Sparta to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4.
The route winds through scenic back roads and includes overnight stops in multiple small towns, including Mount Airy, Reidsville, Oxford, Roanoke Rapids, Edenton, and Manteo. Over the course of the route, bicyclists will cover an average of 60 miles per day. The official route through Surry County will be released at a later date.
Marketing Director for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center Jessica Icenhour Roberts said blocks of rooms have already been set up at local hotels, and participants also may camp at Veterans Park, as well as an indoor camping location.
Hampton Inn of Mount Airy and Holiday Inn Express are listed as official accommodations on the Cycle North Carolina website, but it is also noted that participants are free to stay anywhere in town. Outdoor and indoor camping is offered for free to participants.
Local officials hope the contingent — which could include up to 3,000 people with support staff, families and friends of the cyclists, will have a positive effect on the local economy.
“They will arrive early on Sunday, so participants will be looking for opportunities such as shopping, going to local parks, riding and walking on the greenway trails, visiting wineries, eating in restaurants…we also want to work with groups in the community to showcase downtown and Mount Airy in general. Participants are just like any tourists — they want to be engaged while they are here,” Roberts shared.
Roberts added that she will work with the Downtown Business Association and Mount Airy Downtown, Inc. to encourage downtown businesses to open up on Sunday and for those already open, perhaps expand hours on Sept. 28 to accommodate the large influx of visitors to the town who are looking for something to do. On a day when many downtown businesses are closed, Roberts said she hopes businesses will see the benefit of staying open.
Information about Mount Airy will be posted on the Cycle NC website, as well as a link to visitmayberry.com. Brochures are already going out to those who have signed up and are inquiring early about the area. Roberts said she received a phone call from a participant on Monday morning, asking for brochures and more information about the town to be mailed to them.
“People really do plan in advance for this event,” Roberts said. “There are even groups who participate together, and some families and friends ride along in their cars [called support vehicles by Cycle North Carolina]. There are entire families who enjoy participating together. They have also discussed the possibility of offering some type of shuttle into Mount Airy and the downtown area, in order to get participants out and about while they are here.”
Plans are in the works for some type of entertainment for Cycle NC participants, Robets added, such as a concert showcasing music from the area, which will also be open to the general public.
If there are any organizations who may be interested in setting up in Veteran’s Park on Sunday to raise money by selling food and drink, Roberts said they should contact Gary Willard with Veteran’s Park. The cyclists will leave town the next day.
Roberts traveled to Raleigh to participate in Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker’s official route announcement, which was released as a Youtube video on Monday morning. The video can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgd8O7OzNmo&feature=youtu.be .
In the video, Decker said that each overnight stop for the bicyclists has generated some of the largest sales date for accommodations, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and shopping for the entire year in past Cycle North Carolina events, with more than $3 million generated each year for the small town stops.
The Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” Tour is the state’s only fully-supported ride, created in 1999 as a public-private partnership with the N.C. Division of Tourism, Capital Broadcasting Company, the N.C. Department of Transportation, and North Carolina Amateur Sports as founding partners. It was developed, according to a press release issued on Monday, “to promote North Carolina’s scenic beauty, heritage tourism, visitor attractions, historic sites, state parks, fitness, healthy lifestyles, and the benefits of bicycling to individuals and our state.”
Registration is open at www.cyclenorthcarolina.org. Registration will be capped at 1,100 riders, so participants are encouraged to register early. For more information, contact NCAS at 919-361-1133 or visit the web site at www.cyclenorthcarolina.org.