The countdown has begun. This Friday cyclists will descend on downtown Mount Dora as the state's longest-running cycling event begins. In just two short years, Mount Dora Bicycle Festival transformed from a withering event to a vibrant festival attracting cyclists from across the state and country.
The difference has been the passion and hard work of its energized organizers. At time of publication 1249 riders were already pre-registered and 1500 riders are expected at the three-day event that kicks off October 7, according to Tracy Draper, the event’s chairperson.
Draper, an avid cyclist, and her committee have succeeded in turning the festival into one of Florida’s premier cycling events with riders traveling from as far as South America.
The festival’s scenic courses range from 11 miles for novices to the 103-mile Countryside Century ride. The most grueling route is the Sugarloaf Extension on Sunday. Die-hards will pedal through the new “Back 2 Back Century Challenge" accomplishing 102 miles on Friday and 103 miles on Saturday.
To keep the festival fresh, three new routes have been added, and route concierges, drawn from the pool of local cyclists, will be on hand to answer riders’ questions about specific routes, terrain, traffic issues and relative difficulty.
Once out of their saddles, riders will find an abundance of activities. Thursday and Friday nights feature wine tasting, while Saturday activities include a pasta lunch, beer garden, contests, food trucks, a vendor village and music in Sunset Park. Festival-goers also spill into downtown restaurants, shops and bars, many of which offer discounts to riders wearing festival wristbands. Sunday the festival hosts "Giveaway Day" in the park.
The Mount Dora Bicycle Festival distinguishes itself by its terrain, as well as the charm of the town and its value pricing. Attendees can get multi-day pricing that breaks down to about $34 per day. The festival swag includes medals for finishers and long-sleeved event T-shirts for registrants. Registrations is at the former Chef's Pantry building at 322 N. Alexander Street across from Sunset Park.
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