Bike racers get a taste of the county’s offerings this weekend

Friday, August 3, 2018
Hundreds of cyclists will race in Lewisburg and Belfast with two days of racing scheduled for this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday also sees a Taste of Marshall County return to the square as part of a busy weekend in Marshall County.

While the world’s most famous bicycle race, the Tour de France, ended last weekend, Lewisburg and Marshall County have a full weekend of bike racing on tap this weekend.

For the first time, a full weekend of racing, with three different races, will attract racers and spectators from all over the southeast and beyond to town.

The weekend, dubbed the Battle of Lewisburg by its organizers, will be the first omnium, a weekend featuring the three different road racing events: a time trial, a criterium, and a mass-start road race, held in the state for at least the past ten years.

The Battle of Lewisburg will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5.

The first race on Saturday will be the time trial. Time trials feature riders taking off at 30-second intervals, competing against the clock. It will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 10:30 a.m.

Cyclists will start at Rock Creek Park and head south toward the square. Riders will complete a counterclockwise loop on the inner part of the square. They will eventually exit on East Commerce Street. From there, cyclists will re-enter the square.

The square will be inaccessible for vehicles all day on Saturday, Aug. 4 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The criterium will take place from noon to 7:30 p.m. with several different classes of riders racing a course around the square for a set amount of time.

“It’s essentially NASCAR for bicycles,” Cary Whitesell, director of Lewisburg Parks and Recreation, said.

The road race on Sunday, Aug. 5 will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. in Belfast. There will be no road closures. Corners and stop signs will be manned and controlled.

While the former Hell of the South race that was centered on the roads around Belfast is technically no more, as the sponsors of that race have stepped away from organizing races, the course itself proved so popular with cyclists that the race has been continued in spirit.

In conjunction with the two-day bike racing, the Taste of Marshall County returns, after a one-year hiatus, on Saturday as well.

“It’s a chance for us to showcase the hidden talents in Marshall County, “ Whitesell said.

There will be vendors from different parts of Marshall County set up near First Tennessee Bank. Henry Horton State Park will show off the new healthy menu by bringing concessions and Lyons Chevrolet will be hosting giveaways. The event will also include local music.