When workers blocked off the roads in downtown Statesville about 5 p.m. July 31, William “W.W.” Henderson, 94, president of Henderson Furniture Co., and Wilbur Turner, 46, pulled out two of the chairs for sale and took their seats in the store entrance.
They were in a great spot to enjoy the people-watching as well as the action at the Statesville Criterium Bike Race.
Waving to friends and strangers alike, the pair smiled, trading jokes to pass the time. “I haven’t missed a race in 15 years, and we have a ringside seat for everything,” Henderson said as one of the bicycle riders glided by on the sidewalk, only a couple of feet in front of him.
The Statesville Bike Race – actually a series of seven races in different categories, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour – was part of the Giordana Crossroads Classic Series, a series of bicycle races that ran through four North Carolina cities from July 30 to Aug. 2.
“It is a great event for Statesville because we’re a very active community,” said Marin Tomlin, executive director of the Downtown Statesville Development Corp. “We’ve got one of the top 10 bike shops in the United States, First Flight Bicycle, located in downtown Statesville.”
“A lot of people come out and watch this exciting event,” she said.
Tomlin added that the partnership between the DSDC and Neil Boyd, owner of Start 2 Finish Charlotte, to bring the Giordana Crossroads Classic to Statesville for the last 15 years has been especially nice, because Boyd grew up there.
Boyd, who started his event management business the same year he first brought bicycle racing to his home town, in 2000, said, “The nicest thing has been watching the streetscape in Statesville in the last couple of years and seeing it all come together.
“I’m glad to see it finished for this year’s event,” he said.
Tomlin estimated the crowd to be between 800 and 1,000 people. As the bikes sped past, guests watched from the streets and visited the restaurants in the downtown area as the races continuing into the night. Competing against riders from as far away as California, local favorites elicited the loudest cheers and did their best to not disappoint their fans.
Entertainment between races included trike races, pitting local organizations against each other, with the Statesville Chamber of Commerce dominating and winning one race.
As the daylight started to fade, the Carolina BallonFest organization inflated a couple of balloons for a balloon glow, their burners lighting up the night, as the pro races ran into the darkness, not finishing until around 10:30 p.m.
“I’m glad to be back,” Boyd said. “Let’s bring it back here in 2016.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on the Giordana Crossroads Classic, go to www.crossroadscyclingclassic.com/home.
For more racing results for the Statesville Criterium Bike Race, go to http://racesonline.com/events/crossroads-cycling-classic/results/2015-statesville-criterium?category_id=&commit=Search&page=2&search_term_display=&utf8=%E2%9C%93
Top local finishers
Sarah Matchett, 45, Davidson, fifth in the Women’s division.
Matthew Cross, 27, Mooresville, first in the Category 3 Men’s division.
Matt Moosa, Charlotte, eighth in the Pro1, 2 division.
Chris Knetsche, 50, Concord, first in the Masters Men 50-plus division.
Darren Fuller, 50, Cornelius, second in the Masters Men 50-plus division.
Brian Levy, 28, Charlotte, sixth in the Category 4 Men’s division.
Tim Dinger, 39, Charlotte, fourth in the Category 5 Men’s division.
Marcus Morgan, 49, Charlotte, eighth in the Masters Men 40-plus division.