published Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

City Beat: Professionals on two wheels invading area

We will have a fairly rare opportunity this weekend to watch professionals on two-wheeled cycling machines do things that very few of us can or will ever do. At least at the level they will be doing it.

The Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships are this weekend in downtown Chattanooga and at the Volkswagen plant off Bonny Oaks Drive. They will offer a chance to watch the very best men and women in the world compete.

Also this weekend, the International Motorcycling Federation is bringing the 2013 Wagner Cup, the Trial World Championship to Sequatchie, Tenn., Friday through Monday.

The fact that either of these events is happening here is a big deal. The fact that we have both, on the same weekend, is pretty amazing.

The Wagner Cup has not been staged in the United States in five years, and it’s happening in our backyard.

It might be hard to fully appreciate what having such events here can mean for the area as a whole.

For years, we were known as a great place for a softball or bass fishing tournament. We’ve hosted events such as the SEC women’s basketball tournament and the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision National Championship (just about the worst name ever, by the way) before, and both drew national attention.

These cycling events will likely draw international attention to our area, and that is great, but what we’ve seen lately is that some of the people who come to these types of things sometimes come back. For good.

We’ve seen it with artists who’ve come here for the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, and we saw it with people who came to compete and/or watch the whitewater events during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

City leaders and Chamber of Commerce types have been singing the praises of our natural resources for years. It’s no secret in hang-gliding and mountain-climbing circles that this area offers some of the best places in the world to do both.

People have come from far and wide to fly or climb. Previously, they didn’t stay, however, because we didn’t always have a city cool enough to keep them here. Now we do.

It will be interesting to watch any long-term residual benefits from having these events here. It will take time, but there is little doubt that much of our city has been transformed by having artistic and creative types move here. Should any of these top riders move here, they could bring others.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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