ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — The annual Johnson City Omnium will take place this weekend, but not in Johnson City.
Instead, cyclists will converge on Carter County and Erwin for a series of races that includes a grueling climb up Roan Mountain.
The event usually takes place in May but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the signature “Roan Groan” race will still involve a trek up Roan Mountain and the time trial will still take place in Erwin, the annual criterium race will take place in downtown Elizabethton instead of downtown Johnson City.
“Elizabethton has always been supportive of the Roan Groan,” said Race Director Reneau Dubberley. “This year will be the 35th continuous year doing the Roan Groan, and it has always started here in Elizabethton.”
“The merchants downtown have been very supportive, as soon as I mentioned that we might be here, they say ‘well, we’re closed on Sunday,'” Dubberley said. “I said, ‘well, I’m going to bring several hundred, maybe a thousand or more people down here, what do you think?’ ‘Oh yeah, we’ll open.'”
The event begins with the Roan Groan on Saturday. Beginning at 9 a.m., cyclists will embark on courses of various lengths that all conclude with a 7.4-mile, 2580-foot climb up Roan Mountain. Courses range from 30 miles to 80 miles in length and can include up to 9,747-feet of climbing depending on category.
“I train on these roads all the time, am very familiar with the course. I love the course,” said Sam Blackmon of the Robinson Forensics Team. “This is a challenging course, there is 8,000 feet of climbing in 80 miles. That’s 1,000 feet for 10 miles. For anyone, even just going on a training ride, that’s a testing course.”
The Ballad Health Time Trial will get underway in Erwin at 5:30 p.m. It includes a 3.2-mile course with a one-mile climb averaging 4% and a half-mile 6.7% descent.
The final race, the Fat Tire Criterium, will take place Sunday in downtown Elizabethton with start times from 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The races will go on rain or shine.
For more information on the Johnson City Omnium, visit www.jcomnium.com.