CYCLE NC to return to Washington

Published 5:02 pm Friday, August 25, 2017

Washington is set to host about 2,000 cyclists come springtime.

North Carolina Amateur Sports announced it would be celebrating the start of cycling season 2018 with the return to Washington of the 15th-annual CYCLE NC Coastal Ride.

On April 20-23, cyclists from all over will take to the roads of Beaufort County on varying bicycle routes — some as short as 5 miles and some as long as 100 miles.

This year marks the fifth time Washington has been the home of CYCLE NC, and with it, comes an increase in tourism and business.

“When you have an influx of 1,500 people it really does have an impact of everything. Our shops feel it, our restaurants feel it, our gas stations feel it, our hotels feel it,” said Lynn Wingate, tourism development director of Washington. “It’s felt throughout Washington and Beaufort County.”

Many cyclists will set up tents and camp out along the waterfront, while others will fill hotels and bed and breakfasts. Wingate said hotels are already starting to book up, and the event will likely sell out.

Liane Harsh, owner of Inner Banks Outfitters, said the weekend is certainly a sight to see. She said the energy of the cyclists as they bike through town, set up tents and explore the downtown area is incomparable.

Harsh said she enjoys participating in events just like this herself, but when it’s in Washington, she’s all business.

“This is an event that we go to do, but when it’s here — I don’t get to play,” Harsh laughed. “But I’m not complaining. It’s a very good weekend for my business.”

As the owner of the only bike shop in Washington, Harsh said the weekend undoubtedly brings a crowd. She will open her shop early and stay open late; and can act as a one-stop shop for the visitors. She said she’ll be ready for fixing flat tires and broken spokes, and will also have her store stocked with snacks and minor repair equipment.

“Our answer is yes. If they need us to go do something, it’s a yes. It’s a big chance for us to make an impression on them,” Harsh said.

Mindy Ball, manager at Down on Main Street in downtown Washington, said the event is a good way to let others know that Washington is a good place to shop, stay and eat. She said when the weekend arrives, the staff gets ready to see a lot of new faces.

“Overall, we just know it’s going to be a very busy weekend. It’s probably twice the normal volume. We might have a few extra people on staff. We just cross our fingers and hope for the best,” Ball said.

Wingate said she’s noticed that the visitors usually want to have fun and celebrate the start of another cycling season, but they also want to experience all that Washington has to offer.

“The people that are coming, they really want to immerse themselves in our community. … A lot of them won’t get back in their cars until they go to leave on Sunday,” Wingate said.