Siler City has been a waypoint for Cycle NC before, but on Oct. 1-2, more than 1,000 cyclists will ride through — and stay — in Siler City as part of the 2019 Mountains to Coast Ride. This week, we speak with Neha Shah, the director of the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau, about the event and the Siler City stop.
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Siler City has been a waypoint for Cycle NC before, but on Oct. 1-2, more than 1,000 cyclists will ride through — and stay — in Siler City as part of the 2019 Mountains to Coast Ride. This week, we speak with Neha Shah, the director of the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau, about the event and the Siler City stop. Shah joined the CVB in 1999. She grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and attended the University of Florida for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. She’s spoken internationally, and co-published several academic papers and chapters in university textbooks (on hospitality and tourism), and has won 20 destination marketing awards in marketing, branding, innovation, e-news, social media, rising star from Destination Marketing Association of N.C. A native of India, she came to the U.S. with her family at age 2 and took the U.S. Citizenship Test in 2006. Her hobbies include travel, writing and visiting museums, and she considers herself a “foodie” who enjoys taking a couple of international trips each year.
Cycle NC’s annual Mountains to Coast Ride will be making a stopover — not just going through, but spending the night — in Siler City. Why is this so significant?
We have worked with Cycle NC and Visit North Carolina previously, when the CVB coordinated lunch stops. We have not ever been able to host large groups feasibly due to lack of mainstream accommodations, particularly when guests need to stay in one location. Regardless, the CVB has worked to showcase Chatham County as an overnight destination whenever possible.
Cycle NC organizers, namely Chip Hofler, VP Amateur Sports, requested a site visit last fall. He encouraged the CVB to bid on becoming one of the overnight stops and the economic impact of an overnight will be evident. Cyclists will stay in Siler City and area lodging, eat in local restaurants, possibly shop for sundries while in town, and enjoy the craft beverages sold during the festivities.
Moreover, the goal of Cycle NC’s Mountain to Coast ride is to take guests through areas of N.C. that are lesser known, smaller cities and towns that often get overlooked when travelers stay in more urban centers. The leisurely pace of the ride (not a race) gives them the opportunity to get a taste of what is available so that they venture to return since it’s worth the trip. These guests represent 36 states and three countries (last year) and invest in their vacations; they’re spending 10 days traveling through N.C.
What are the particulars — how many riders, where will they stay, how will they spend their time, etc.? And what can residents expect to experience as the cyclists come through?
For starters, 1,100 cyclists (that’s the average annual registration). Approximately 800 will camp at Bray Park; others are staying at AmeriVu and Days Inn, and about 100 are staying in Orange County at Hyatt Place.
Siler City is the fourth overnight for these guests. They’re arriving from Spencer and departing for Clayton on Oct. 2. We are planning festivities and will have events throughout the county for them. Visit NC is offering an excursion to take guests to Southern Supreme for tours and tastings in Bear Creek.
At Base Camp (Bray Park and N.G. Armory), lots is planned: music (planning in progress), food (we are seeking food trucks), food concessions at Bray Park, yoga and chair massages at the Armory, selfie station and small giveaways at the visitor tent/Cycle NC recovery zone, coffee food truck at Bray Park. Four Saints Brewing, Thirsty Skull Brewing, Chatham Cider Works and FireClay Cellars will be among those serving during parts of the day.
Chatham Transit shuttles will take cyclists from Bray Park to area hotels, Walmart shopping center (for sundries and nearby fast food), and the laundromat). The loop will begin at 2 p.m.
Chatham Transit shuttles will take guests from Bray Park to downtown Siler City beginning 4:30 p.m. for the finale evening. Oasis in Siler City will have food and beverage sales (Oktoberfest food, beer stein specials/Oktoberfest brews), along with events at Peppercorn and NCAI/Chatham Rabbit. Berryfield, an acoustic band, and Crumb Catcher will perform at Oasis. Peppercorn festivities include a bicycle-themed artwork display, empanadas, smoothies, fresh lemonade and orangeade stand, coffee with chocolate Peppercream, tarot card reader, and more. Wild Women Chasing Periwinkle, Twin Birch & Teasel, and other merchants will offer shopping (pack a USPS flat rate box, stores will ship for you — holiday shopping starts now!). Chatham Cider Works and FireClay Cellars are among the beverage vendors at the downtown finale event.
You and your team have known about this for some time, so what kind of preparations have you made, and what kind of work has gone into getting ready for Oct. 1 & 2?
Cycle NC contacted the CVB last October and the bid process and announcement was required to remain confidential until late January. I was fortunate to get a part-time temp marketing assistant late January. I worked with Cycle NC’s travel director to get hotel contracts set before the announcement, film (it was still confidential at the time of filming) the video announcement, set all the logistics, work to raise funds for the event. The host community is required to cover expenses (shuttles, music/entertainment, security, clean-up, etc.).
What else needs to happen between now and the arrival? What can individuals, business and organizations do to help out and take part?
We continue to finalize details, which with any event, it’s about anticipating every need, expectation, and then making many back-up plans. Individuals — we love volunteers and want help making our guests feel at home, providing information about our area, guiding them to shuttles, helping event flow, etc. We would also love to see downtown Siler City filled with local residents mingling among our cyclists that evening. Businesses — sponsorships would be fantastic for music (100 percent of the contributions are for covering the costs of hosting the event). We still need food trucks and music at N.G. Armory. We are appreciative of our organizations working with us — Town of Siler City allowing us to have Base Camp at Bray Park, Siler City Police Department working with us, Chatham County, and more. We are having another meeting with town officials and several other organizations this week as we continue to finalize details of the event.
How can people get more information — and more importantly, get involved?
Email me (email@example.com) and I’m happy to answer questions and let you know how to help!
• Volunteer form: http://bit.ly/CNCVolunteer
• Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/2773930002682322/
• Sponsor/vendor link: http://bit.ly/CycleNCSilerCity