2011 Joe Martin Stage Race set for May 5-8 in Fayetteville

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Two cyclists on West Avenue in Fayetteville participate in the 2010 Joe Martin Stage Race.

Put on your biker shorts, your helmet, and fill up your camel pack. It’s time for a weekend of bicycle racing.

The 34th annual Joe Martin Stage Race is set for Thursday, May 5 through Sunday, May 8 in Fayetteville.

The event, which began in 1978 as the Fayetteville Spring Classic, was re-named the Joe Martin Stage Race in 1989 in honor of the former race director who passed away after a battle with cancer in 1988.

Now “The Joe,” as it is often called, has grown to one of the top National Racing Calendar events in the country. Organizers say that they expect the four days of racing to draw more than 700 athletes from 47 states and 19 countries this year.

Time trials begin Thursday at Devil’s Den State Park, followed by a pro/elite level road race on Friday, a 23-mile road race on Saturday, and the criterium races in downtown Fayetteville on Sunday.

The criterium races are probably the most spectator-friendly. They begin at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, and the fast-and-furious 1.2-mile-course begins and ends the intersection of Center and Church Street. There are seven criterium races, and each one takes about 25 minutes from start to finish.

There’s also a kids ride and parade at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, featuring a lap around the criterium track.

A full schedule of races, as well as a list of good spots to watch the action are available at joemartinstagerace.com.