The final day of the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville was marked by competitiveness, tradition and legacy.
“That’s what my parents had always intended and it’s great that he’s been able to make it what it is,” said John Lewis Martin.
John Lewis Martin is the late Joe Martin’s son. His father began the race in 1978 but when he died in 1988, it was renamed after him.
“Seeing his name everywhere and seeing Joe Martin on everyone’s shirt and hat, it’s sort of weird experience,” said Martin. “I always know it’s like that every year but it’s great, how can you complain about it. I think it’s really special.”
Six hundred and fifty cyclists took over downtown Fayetteville as riders braved the 1.2 mile uphill course.
“Bike racing can’t be appreciated until you come out and see it in person,” said race director Bruce Dunn. “It’s a great visual sport.”
Dunn said Joe Martin left a footprint in the cyclist world.
“What a passionate person about cycling, he gave to the sport, started this race 36 years ago so he had a vision,” said Dunn.
The cyclists came from all 50 states including pro woman racer Mia Loquai from Minnesota.
“The races are great. I mean the roads out here are perfect you know spectators helping out and everything it’s great,” Loquai said.
There were also cyclists from 22 countries such as pro racer Lorena Vargas from Colombia.
“It’s a nice race, I really enjoy racing here in the U.S. and I come to prep for the season,” Vargas said.
The young generation of cyclists took on the streets. Some in training wheels while others in bigger bikes crossed the finished line.
John Lewis, who lives in North Carolina, said watching this yearly tradition keeps the memory of his father alive.
“I know that they had always dreamed about doing and getting this on the National Race Calendar is just something phenomenal,” said Martin.
More than $50,000 in cash and merchandise were given away in this year’s race.