Which is why organizers expect another outstanding field of more than 250 racers.
“This course is one of the most challenging criterium courses in New England,” said race director Paul Boudreau, a Beverly resident and president of Essex County Velo. “There are lots of high-speed corners that require riders with excellent bike-handling skills.”
The Gran Prix races also highlight the growing interest in cycling and bike advocacy in Massachusetts in general, and on Boston’s North Shore in particular. Beverly has a number of excellent cycling shops, and is also headquarters for Parlee Cycles, a manufacturer of high-end carbon fiber bikes. Several professional cyclists, including Johnson (a native of nearby Middleton). Milne, and Jesse Anthony, call Beverly home.
Race organizers are actively recruiting volunteers to help stage the event; each volunteer will receive a free T-shirt. To help encourage area cycling fans to pedal to the Gran Prix on July 24, the Beverly Bike Committee is offering complimentary bike valet services at the First Baptist Church.
“The people who run our bike valet are part of a larger movement to make cycling safer and more accessible to everyone,” said Boudreau. “The Beverly Bike Committee works closely with city officials as an advocate for cycling. We really want to highlight the tireless work the Bike Committee does for cycling.”
Todd Balf, a Beverly resident and member of the Beverly Bike Committee, said the Gran Prix brings a unique atmosphere to Beverly’s business hub. “For me the race offers a vision of what Beverly’s downtown can be,” said Balf. “It’s much bigger than simply a professional road race — as cool as that is — but a coming together of the community in a way we don’t often get the opportunity to see.”
According to Balf, Beverly recently “granted us permission to use Ellis Square for our bike drive with Bikes Not Bombs. I think we’re definitely benefitting from the great reputation the Gran Prix event has at the city level, and the way the event has positively showcased cycling and cyclists downtown.”