U23 Racer Zach McDonald takes the overall win at Day 2 of Providence. Todd Prekaski

Here, Zach McDonald takes the overall win at Day 2 of Providence. © Todd Prekaski

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – The festivities start a day early at the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival this year. America’s most prestigious cyclocross race opens on Friday, October 4, 2013 with a day of clinics and racing to accommodate the event’s growing numbers of participants.

The Providence Cyclo-cross Festival launched Divine Youth this year, a program to connect professional cyclists with school kids in and around Roger Williams Park. On Friday, school visits will occur and through a partnership with Little Bellas and Keough Cyclocross, clinics for kids will take place at Roger Williams Park throughout the day.

“It’s Show and Tell, but with an added step.” said program director Patricia Dowd. “We’ll be visiting the kids at school to introduce them to professional riders and the sport. And we’ll be taking it a step further by allowing kids to try it themselves. We’re looking forward to sharing the fun of cyclocross and the beauty of cycling with these fantastic communities in October.”

Clinics are also in the works for adults interested in learning the ins and outs of dismounts and run-ups. Team LUNA Chix is planning a beginner women’s clinic and additional clinics will be announced.

The racing kicks off with the industry race, an opportunity for those working behind the scenes to bask in the glory of the Friday afternoon crowds. Given the natural advantage of working in the cycling industry and having ample time to train, the race will be a one lap, fat tired bike affair.

One of two new additions to the calendar, the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival is proud to host the fourth round of the Zanconato Single Speed Series presented by ENGVT. Born out of the single speed race at the Ice Weasels Cometh, the series is now in its third year, with nine races on the calendar. Series co-founder Jerry Chabot expressed his joy at the Providence debut, “Our team has always appreciated the competition of SSCX, and were thrilled to see the series legitimized by the inclusion of the Providence venue. The Roger Williams course is perhaps our favorite course of the season and it’s going to be incredible to bring a hard, fast, exciting SSCX race to that venue. ENGVT is proud to be associated with the premier single speed series at one of the premier venues on the east coast.”

In addition to the single speed races, Friday evening showcases the nation’s upcoming talent in a UCI Junior race. The best juniors in the country will battle it out for prize money and a potential invite to the World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. The UCI sanctioned Junior race is one of only a handful in the United States and the only one of its kind in the northeast. Event organizer Richard Fries noted, “Last year, there were no UCI Junior races in the New England for our local kids. Not for nothing, but we have some of the strongest Juniors in the world here in the northeast.” In the spirit of keeping things local, Charles and Cheryl Owens, owners of Innovative Concepts, have generously donated toward the $2,000 prize payout. They are successfully bringing on more local sponsors making this the largest junior cyclocross event in the US.

And don’t forget the activities occurring at the Providence Biltmore, the event host hotel. The New England Bike/Walk Summit starts Friday morning, with a day of speakers and panels covering a broad range of current advocacy topics. If you ride a bike in New England, you have a vested interest. Return to the Biltmore Friday evening for the Builders Ball, from 7-10pm, in the Grand Ballroom on the 17th floor.