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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Embarrassment of bicycle race riches

Two bicycle groups spoke before the Coconut Grove BID yesterday, speaking about proposed bicycle races through the Grove, ironically, both have the same weekend in mind -- October 22 and 23, 2011.

Lee Marks, attorney, and local Grovite spoke about bringing his event back, The Great Coconut Grove Bicycle Race, after running it so successfully for many years (this is one of the medals at left, from a previous race) and Cathy McCarthy spoke on behalf of the Bill Bone Pro-Am Bicycle Race. Both have great ideas of bringing back a great Grove tradition, but only Lee has his application and City approval in for the dates. But he is thinking of having his event on Sunday, October 23 and Cathy's event is planned for Saturday, October 22. Can they work together and have one big Coconut Grove bicycle weekend?

The Bill Bone race is a 12 weekend racing series, there are six races in the spring and six in the fall, the Grove event would be the final event of this year's series. Cathy would like to possibly combine the event with Miami Bike Day, which would be really a great thing if it was also combined with Lee's Coconut Grove Bike Race.

Being the final weekend of the series would bring many people since it all leads up through the season to a large purse that has been building up.

The BID (Business Improvement District) is concerned about street closures, which would be the case with both races, which go through all the major streets in the Center Grove.

Lee's race involves bringing Lance Armstrong, who would draw a large number of people to the area. Lance is involved with his charity and others and that would be a large draw, too. There would be four races, about an hour each, including children's and families, a Police race, where different departments race against each other and even a race with Lance who would compete with local celebrites, possibly from the sports teams like Dolphins players and Heat players, etc. And of course there would then be the main race with the bicycle racing pros.

Lee's race would be part of the National Bike Race Calendar, so racers would come from all over the U.S. and also South America and Europe. Lee ran the Coconut Grove Bicycle Race for five years, from 1997 to 2002, it originally started in 1972.

But the main concern with the BID are the locked down streets, which the businesses do not like on weekends, also many residents find it difficult getting in and out of their properties and they don't care for the street closures either.

The BID has put together a sub-committee to discuss the track itself and possibly will come up with an alternative that will not cause too many street closures. Business owners, merchants, the NET office, hotels in the area and BID members will be part of the committee which will meet for the first time next Thursday.

Most likely this will be worked out and there will be an event in the fall -- the return of the Coconut Grove Bicyle Races, with or without the Bill Bone Pro Am Bike Race and Miami Bike Days. Hopefully it will be all three.

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