By Matt Hill
JOHNSON CITY — The Tri- Cities Road Club is in the spotlight every year because of the Johnson City Omnium that includes the Roan Groan in Roan Mountain, but the club is always doing its best to promote the sport of cycling in Northeast Tennessee.
The club began in 1979, and has been putting together the Johnson City Omnium since 2004. The more recent group of races took place the first weekend of June in Roan Mountain, Erwin and Johnson City.
Before the Omnium, the club held a race from 1982-1995 in JC.
The Omnium has become a huge part of the Blue Plum festival, just like the old race was part of Johnson City’s Springfest.
The Roan Groan is now part of the Omnium, and is probably the marquee event of the Omnium.
“The Omnium is growing in recognition,” Tri-Cities Road Club Race Director Reneau Dubberley said. “We had 17 states represented. The economic impact on the region is also big.”
Though the economic impact on Roan Mountain is probably minimal, it does bring a major sporting event to the small East Carter County town that doesn’t involve prep sports.
“It does bring a lot of congestion, but it does introduce people to the state park and gardens,” Dubberley said. “It does increase tourism.”
Though local riders were minimal for the two day event, some included Alexander Ratliff of Roan Mountain, Jimmy Hayes, Sam Skilies and Curt Alexander of Elizabethton and Larry Rosolina of Hampton.
Nolan Tankersley of Erwin, a 17-year old high school student, won his category for the weekend.
The Road club does a tremendous job promoting the Omnium, but this organization is much more than the events of the first weekend in June.
There are training rides throughout the year and there are two special fundraiser rides, the Pink Ribbon Ride and Jacob Francisco Memorial to raise money for medical education.
There are training rides on Tuesday nights near Lamar School in Washington County and over at Knights Pizza on Thursday night.
Dubberley says the club is also helped out by great roads in this region and outstanding terrain.
“Most county roads are paved well, and there’s reasonably low traffic,” he said. “There are plenty of roads to choose from to ride on.”
Dubberley says it’s very easy to get in touch with the club, and to be a part of something that’s good for you and rewarding.
“You can contact us at www.tricitiesroadclub.org,” he said. “You can find rides and get in contact with a representative from the road club.”