Bike race returns to Albany
May 11, 2015
By Brad McEwen, Albany Herald
ALBANY — Cyclists from across the country will descend on the Good Life City this weekend to compete in the second leg of the Southeast Regional Series at the Albany Unchained Bike Race Weekend.
Although this is the 11th year Albany has hosted the downtown bike races, it is only the third year that the event has been part of the Southeast Regional Series. The race serves as the second leg of four that sees cyclists compete in four states in four months.
According to Kristen Schuette, marketing and communications manager for the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is the main sponsor for the event, having the Albany race become part of the SRS has helped increase the its profile.
“Being part of the series has been good for the race,” Schuette said. “We get a lot more riders. Based on last year, we expect over 300 riders just for the Saturday race.”
Saturday races are known as the criterium and will feature multiple races throughout the day. In addition to Saturday’s criterium, there will also be longer distance road races on Sunday in Lee County.
Races on both days will feature different competition categories based on gender, age and skill levels, including pro races that typically feature fierce competition.
“The pros are the big races,” Schuette said. “Those cyclists are flying.”
Saturday’s races are set to begin at 11 a.m., with the final race starting at 5:20 p.m. Each class will traverse the same course which begins on Pine Avenue, turns left onto Jackson Street, left onto Broad Avenue, left onto Front Street, and finally left back onto Pine.
“It’s a big oval,” said Schuette.
Sunday’s race will feature eight different categories of riders traveling different distances on a route through Lee County.
In addition to the criterium races on Saturday and the road races on Sunday, this year’s Unchained event will also feature time trials, where single riders will ride a separate course and try to post a faster time.
The trials start at 8 a.m. on Washington Street. Riders will travel the inside lane of the one-way street, turning left on Seventh Avenue, left on Jackson Street, followed by a left onto Pine Avenue, where they will finish in front of the Government Center.
This year’s race is being sponsored by Prince Automotive Group, Michelob Ultra, U Save It Pharmacy, the Pecan City Peddlers cycling club, and the CVB.
Schuette said the CVB has offerred its support for the race because it helps raise Albany’s profile among a different group of visitors and it helps generate local economic impact through hotel, retail and restaurant spending.
“The bike race is another way for us to showcase Albany by bringing an event here,” Schuette said. “Most of those cyclists would probably never come here. And while they’re here, they are staying in our hotels and spending money in our restaurants and stores.”
Schuette said last year’s race created a $109,000 economic impact.
While the CVB and other sponsors work hard to make the race a success, Schuette said the only way to really make the event go off without a hitch is through the support of volunteers, who are needed to serve as road marshals throughout the day.
“We still need volunteers,” she said. “It takes about 60 for the main day on Saturday. We need them to help people cross the street at the right time for the safety of spectators and riders. There are also opportunities to volunteer for Sunday as well.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Schuette by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Albany Welcome Center at (229) 317-4760.