Bicycles and Bodacious Food? USA Pro Road Cycling Championships Return to Knoxville

USA Cycling Men's National Championships, Knoxville, June 2018
USA Cycling Women’s National Championships, Knoxville, June 2018

The U.S. Pro Road and Individual Time Trial Championships started yesterday in Knoxville (with time trials in Knoxville and Oak Ridge) and this marks the third year the men’s and women’s premier cycling race has been held in Knoxville. Last year the U.S. Pro Criterium Championships were added and they’re back and this marks the first year that Knoxville will host the USA Pro and Para-Cycling Road National Championships.

If that isn’t enough, the announcement was made earlier this week that they will continue in Knoxville through 2021. This will also mark only the second time that “all U.S. national champions in professional road cycling will be crowned during the same weekend under the organizational umbrella of one host community.”

There are a number of road closures downtown and near downtown through the weekend and you can find those, plus race courses here. The best source of overall information as well as schedules may be found here. Expect closures today to start at 4:00 PM.

USA Cycling Women’s National Championships, Knoxville, June 2018

The Criterium races start this afternoon on a 1.1 mile loop which includes a portion of Gay Street. It’s the biggest bang for your buck as you get to see three consecutive races starting at 4:45 by the para-athletes, followed by the women at 6:00 PM and the men at 7:25 PM. It all ends just before 9:00. Since it is such a tight loop, observers get to see more of the action passing by. Given the technical turns, it may be the most dangerous of the races.

Important notice to Dwight Kessel Garage parkers: Motorists parked in the Dwight Kessel Garage will not be allowed to exit onto Hill Avenue. The ramp onto James White Parkway will be inaccessible from Main Street because of Gay Street being closed there. Any vehicles parked inside the circle course will be unable to leave until the Crit concludes.

USA Cycling Men’s National Championships, Knoxville, June 2018

The Para Road Race starts Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, while the main event, the Pro Road championships are set for Sunday. They will follow a nearly 8-mile route in downtown Knoxville, South Knoxville and the Old City, as they have previously. The start and finish lines for the men and women will be the same. Travel in and out of parts of downtown will be impacted all day. The women will race 8 laps and a total distance of 62.8 miles, starting at 9 a.m., while the men will complete 14 laps and a total distance 109.9 miles, starting at 1:15 p.m. The last rider finishes at 6:10 p.m.

It is an absolutely thrilling weekend and well worth figuring out how to get downtown and park to join in the festivities. We need to continue to support this event that, according to Visit Knoxville, has about a $6,000,000 impact on east Tennessee. It also helps reinforce Knoxville’s growing reputation as a cycling center for the southeast.

USA Cycling Men’s National Championships, Knoxville, June 2018

And the food in the caption? Outside Online this week posted an article about cyclists and food in Knoxville, “How Elite Cyclists Eat Their Way Through Knoxville,” in honor of the races visiting our city this  weekend. It gives a lot of good plugs to the city and area in general, but focuses particularly on the food. Shout outs go to Tomato Head, Oli Bea, Pearl (along with Union Avenue Books), Peter Kern Library, Oliver Royale and the French Market Creperie. Not shabby choices and fun reading.

Have a great weekend and enjoy this first taste of summer. If you come out to the races, hydrate and watch out for me. I’ll be shooting all weekend.