Bike NWA Host Natural State Criterium Series For Second Year

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SPRINGDALE (KFSM)-- The Natural State Criterium Series came to a close Sunday (July 9) as cyclists raced through the streets of Downtown Springdale.

The group Bike NWA hosted the race with the goal of elevating the sport in Northwest Arkansas.

"We want to give kids the opportunity to see a professional sport, to let them know there opportunities out there in cycling," Bike NWA Executive Director Paxton Roberts said.

This is the second year the group held the criterium series and Roberts wants to do it for years to come.

Cyclists started in Bentonville on Friday (July 7) and then made their way to Rogers on Saturday (July 8).

Roberts said interest in the race grew significantly from last year.

Now his goal is to get more people to come watch the races.

The group does not make any money from the event.

Roberts said everything they gain goes back into paying for the race.

“In the event we ever do make any money on this, it will go to toward cycling advocacy and trying to get more trails, more protected bike lanes in Northwest Arkansas," Roberts said.

Everything they have done over the weekend was made possible because of local volunteers, according to Roberts.

Mike Wilson is one of those volunteers and said he just likes learning about the sport from those who ride.

He said even though this is a competition, the cyclists do not act like normal competitors.

“They meet and greet each other and say you should come out and ride with us. I know biking is growing and growing in this community because of the Greenway and people trying to promote it," Wilson said. "It brings back the community because it grows the community.”

He said he is not cyclist and is in awe of how fast some of these riders can go.

Next year's event is expected to take place around the same time in July as this years.