Cycling enthusiasts, mark your calendars for May 4-5. This 5th annual event supports Marion Cultural Alliance with a whole weekend of fun. We asked Race Director Chris King what to expect this year.
What was your motivation for coming on as race director in year five?
I wanted to help continue the growth we’ve experienced and help take this ride to the next level. We made a lot of progress this year with new partnerships and additional events, and I hope to continue making big moves like this in the future to make downtown Ocala the spring destination for riders throughout Florida and the Southeast.
Describe the Ride for the Arts experience.
We offer a lot that you don’t get out of your typical organized cycling event: door prizes and giveaways, great food, free beer and a vendor village. The best part is the route itself—the beautiful horse farms and rolling hills that make Marion County unique.
What makes Ocala’s ride special?
The total package here goes beyond what’s typically offered, which is often little more than a ride and a simple catered lunch. We’ve done our best to build this into a community event where every touchpoint offers something beyond the norm. The ride brings together a group passionate about the sport while supporting the arts scene that is such a point of community pride. Many people don’t realize that MCA provides financial support to dozens of local arts organizations.
What’s New For 2019?
The biggest addition is our expanded partnership with TopView Sports to really cement Ocala and this event as a destination for cyclists. On May 4, TopView Sports is bringing back the Ocala Downtown Crit, a live race that offers spectators the excitement of watching cyclists fly by. In addition to welcoming back returning sponsors, we’re excited to introduce Ocala Jaguar Land Rover to the cycling and arts community.
What is a Gran Fondo?
The Gran Fondo format is a great way to ride competitively without “racing.” Riders are only timed during designated segments, and in between, they ride at whatever pace they choose—a great outlet for those who want the added challenge of riding against the clock (or others) without having to enter a full-on road race. It’s a fun format, and the riders really seem to enjoy it.
For more information on how to participate as a cyclist, sponsor or volunteer, visit rideforthearts.com.
Saturday, May 4
- Attend the packet pickup party for pre-race fun.
- Find a seat on a downtown patio to watch the Downtown Criterium from 12-6pm.
Choose your route for the May 5 ride:
- 71-mile Gran Fondo
3 timed sections, includes SAG stops | Start time 8am
- 43-mile Medio
2 timed sections, includes SAG stops | Start time 8:15am
- 11-mile Piccolo
Flat terrain suitable for all ages, no SAG stops | Start time 8:30am
Hang out after the ride and enjoy a catered lunch, beer garden, massages, prizes, a vendor village, art and entertainment at the Brick City Center for the Arts.
Brick City Center for the Arts › 23 SW Broadway St. in historic downtown Ocala › (352) 369-1500 › mcaocala.com