Miles Of Fun

The legendary jazz artist Miles Davis once said that the toughest critic an artist must face is themselves. But this idea of self-calibrated excellence is not exclusive to the arts. It will be on fun-and-furious display at the fourth-annual Ride for the Arts in Ocala, on April 21, an event presented by the City of Ocala to support the Marion Cultural Alliance.

The cycling portions of the event will feature three races that have been created for every level of cyclist, from serious competitors to the greenest “Freds” and “Wilmas” out there (cycling slang for those who are new to the sport).

The road geeks will have another chance to better their times in this year’s Gran Fondo (a long-distance cycling event), consisting of three timed sections of an overall 70-mile course. This will be the second year for Gran Fondo portion.

Intermediate riders can hone their skills on the Medio 40-mile ride. The Medio features two timed segments with plenty of challenging terrain and ample SAG (support and gear) stops along the way. It’s perfect for road cycling enthusiasts who are training for longer rides.

Newbies or anyone wanting a more relaxed ride can participate in the Piccolo race. This 15-mile, “entry-level” race features a more leisurely pace over flat terrain, with all segments escorted, making it ideal for the whole family.

Of course, Ride for the Arts is about more than road racing.

Folks coming out for the event can shop for art, clothing and other interesting collectables at the Vendor Village area in downtown Ocala (where the race begins and ends). There will be live entertainment throughout the day, a beer garden and lunch (served after the race).

But the bigger benefactor of all is the arts themselves. Proceeds will benefit the Marion Cultural Alliance, which exists “…to champion, convene and create opportunities for arts and artists.”

Olympic-qualified rider, cycling apparel designer and Race Director Mary Verrandeaux summed up her passion for the event succinctly saying, “I’m an artist and a cyclist. This event combines two of my greatest passions.”

If racking up the miles, scouring the vendor racks or supporting the next Miles Davis sounds like your speed, visit to learn more about the event. To learn more about the mission of the MCA and how you can help the arts thrive in and around Ocala, visit

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