FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For the first time in 72 years, the Cyclo-Cross World Championships will be hosted in Northwest Arkansas with this being the second time the event has been hosted in the U.S.
"It's like the Super Bowl of cycling,” said Josh Allen, cyclist enthusiast. “I mean it's the very best in the world."
Cyclists will be gathering at Centennial Park in Fayetteville starting Friday, Jan. 28. Cyclocross is a mix between mountain biking and road cycling with the athletes riding across a muddy obstacle course filled with barriers.
"It's insane, it's huge,” said Allen who's spent over a decade biking. “For people like me, you dream about going to Belgium and watching Cyclocross World."
Now, other countries will have their eyes on Fayetteville.
"The whole country of Belgium will be watching Fayetteville, Arkansas,” Allen said. “Which is nuts."
Experience Fayetteville is expecting over 20 million people to stream the competition, with 6,000 spectators attending in person.
"So, that means that they'll be staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, and shopping in our stores,” said Experience Fayetteville VP of Marketing and Communications Hazel Hernandez. “So, we will see the economic impact."
Organizers also had to think about safety measures as COVID-19 cases surged and canceled a scheduled gala under the guidance of the Fayetteville City Board of Health. Spectators will be required to wear masks, due to Fayetteville’s temporary mask ordinance currently in place.
"Our priority is always the safety and health of our community," Hernandez said.
For beginning mountain bikers Colby Lelko and Jacob Berg from Texas, the worldwide event being held in Northwest Arkansas shows how great the biking community in the area has become.
"It's cool to ride where some of the best cyclists in the world ride," Lelko said. “It gives us good practice"
"In Texas, you are peddling the entire time,” Berg said. “There's no downhill. There's no mountains, there's no hills. So you get a much better experience here."
If you are planning to attend the 2022 Cyclo-Cross World Championship, parking will not be available so you will have to take a shuttle.
This event is already inspiring locals to host more biking events. Allen is hosting an ‘All Cross’ event across NWA cities to gather bikes together.
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