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Ride Rock Creek to host national mountain bike championship

USA Cycling has selected Ride Rock Creek in Zirconia as the venue for the Gravity Mountain Bike National Championships this year and in 2024, the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority said.

The championship will take place July 12-16 this year and again in the same timeframe next year, the TDA said. The national mountain biking championship is expected to bring some 800 event competitors to the region, along with their coaches and teammates.

Many of these athletes will visit Henderson County for practice leading up to the competition, as well as for the event week in July. Additionally, the event will draw spectators, vendors, USA Cycling staff, volunteers and many people interested in mountain biking to the region, TDA said in its weekly newsletter.

Founded by National Team athlete and professional downhill racer Neko Mulally and business partner Dave LaMond, a Hendersonville physician who is a lifelong rider, investor and entrepreneur, Ride Rock Creek was built in 2022 on a 300-acre plot near DuPont State Forest. The park has six downhill trails suitable for a variety of skill levels and has a shuttle to take riders to the top of the course.

“We’re excited to bring another mountain bike national championship back to the East Coast,"  Tara McCarthy, Director of National Events at USA Cycling, said in a news release. "We are eager to see the development and growing community at Ride Rock Creek and know this will be a great new addition to our National Championship venues with newly built dual slalom course and enduro stages."

Hosting a USA Cycling National Championship event will help drive mountain bike tourism to Ride Rock Creek and Henderson County all year long for training purposes. The new course "helps to further cement Henderson County as a destination for mountain biking at all levels," the TDA said.

The tourism agency called the event the first national sports competition championship ever held in Henderson County, comparing it to the International Equestrian Games held in Tryon in 2018.

As for roads, the TDA said not to worry. "This is a mountain biking event, not a road cycling event, so it will not impact our roads any more than our regular tourism," it said.