After a two-year delay, the Baltimore area is hosting a professional cycling race where athletes are expected to hit speeds of over 45 miles per hour on city streets Sunday afternoon after starting the 120-mile race in the county of Baltimore. The inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic is expected to draw 50,000 visitors to the city and county of Baltimore this weekend. Businesses in the area are estimated to rake in around $11 million from consumers staying in hotels, visiting retail stores and eating in restaurants. By comparison, the five-day Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference held in February generated $19.6 million in economic activity from spectators and athletes.
“This weekend is definitely shaping up to be very busy, hotel reservations keep coming in even on last minute trips to the city,” said Amy Rohrer, CEO of the Maryland Hotel Lodging Association. But right now, there doesn’t appear to be a full sale of available hotel rooms, Rohrer said.
That could mean an economic boost for spectator business along the expansive bike race course that includes several loops around downtown and downtown Baltimore.
It’s not just the cycle race that draws visitors to the area; there’s a 12-mile relay race for runners along Charles Street on Saturday and the Orioles start a home weekend at Camden Yards on Friday night.
The festivities kicked off Thursday afternoon with a Community Bike Jam as kids of all ages worked up an appetite by riding their bikes through Patterson Park.
At least, that’s what Tamara Carter and Lakia Shelton, co-owners of the Baltimore food truck, hoped.
The couple run Eat This food truck and are looking to open their first physical restaurant by the end of the year in the Waverly neighborhood. Eat This serves chicken wings and fries filled with pulled pork, steak and crab.
“We’re hoping for a big turnout,” Shelton said. “Bike Jam normally brings a nice crowd, it’s going to be busy.”
Local officials said the goal was to “showcase another part of Baltimore” as a “sports city for the Mid-Atlantic region,” Mayor Brandon Scott said.
Road closures are expected along the race route as cyclists and their race caravan with 60 support vehicles could stretch a mile in length. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. in Sparks, Baltimore County.
“It’s going to be busy,” said Melissa Pelaez, general manager of Vaccaro Italian Patisserie in Little Italy.
Runners are expected to reach downtown Baltimore around 4:30 p.m. and cross the finish line around 6 p.m. along Pratt Street at Market Place. Motorists will be allowed to cross the course where possible under the direction of police and transport officers, but expect traffic stops and delays.
Pelaez said she was unaware of the number of people expected to watch the race and now plans to bring in additional workers this weekend to meet the anticipated demand of so many pedestrians as the store closes. located near the race course.
“I’m a little nervous now,” she said.
Sundays are usually very busy at the Ovenbird Bakery in Little Italy and the team is prepared for large crowds, owner Keiller Kyle said.
“We usually have lineups on the block, honestly I think it’s going to be really good,” Kyle said.
The bakery has prepared an additional sourdough starter and expects to bake more bread this weekend. He experienced a pro bike race in California and the crowds were “crazy” during the event, he said.
“We’re very happy that the tour is going through our neighborhood, it’s pretty awesome,” he said. “It’s gonna be fun.”