By Riley Kaminer
Millions of Americans ride bicycles – billions worldwide. Yet if you ask the average biker who their favorite professional cyclist is, most would be hard pressed to come up with a name.
Paris Wallace is on a mission to change that. The serial entrepreneur, who has a long list of successful exits, including Good Start Genetics and Ovia Health, under his belt since having graduated from Harvard, has founded the majority-minority and female professional sports league. And Miami plays a central role in the league’s development.
The National Cycling League is attempting to revolutionize cycling in the U.S. by embracing technology, diverse ownership, gender equity, sustainability, and community investment. Top of mind for Wallace when it came to developing the league was keeping spectators engaged. That is why the league’s events will be centered around one to two kilometer tracks through the most iconic blocks of the world’s biggest cities.
On April 8th, the league’s first event will happen in Miami Beach’s Lummus Park. 10 teams of 16 riders will take 30 laps around the kilometer long lap. First, women race 30 laps – then men race their 30. The scoreboard remains the same throughout. The team that garners the most points wins that day, and over a season the points are accumulated to crown an overall winner. Organizers expect between 10 and 25 thousand attendees.
Why Miami? “It’s one of the most exciting sports cities in America,” Wallace told Refresh Miami. “We wanted to leverage the innovation economy that’s here. It’s a great place that understands sports, and it has one of the best cycling communities in the world.” Wallace relocated to Miami from Boston in 2021.
Wallace explained that it was important to make the event free to the public to maximize its accessibility. “One issue that we’re trying to solve is that although the people that live in a city are typically paying for their stadiums, most of those people can’t actually afford to go and be part of those events – even though they’re bearing the cost of it.”
Diversity and inclusion is also top of Wallace’s mind. “For black and brown communities, not only do we want to encourage them from a health perspective to get into cycling, but also because we think ownership matters. And we’re going to be the only league where you can go and you have owners of that league, not just athletes, that look like you.”
For Wallace, building the National Cycling League brings him back to his time as a high schooler, working at a bike shop to support his family. As such, the event is also family-friendly.
Tech plays a critical role in the development of the league, asserted Wallace, because it will help the organizers ensure its accessibility, experience, and community. Wallace noted that 10 million people use platforms like Peleton and Zwift – and the league plans to tap into those communities by enabling users to ride along with the professionals during official races.
On race day, the professional athletes will have all their data captured. Just a few weeks later, fans will be able to race along using their favorite riding app. In 2024, Wallace hopes to deploy technology to enable fans to ride along in real time.
Late last year, the National Cycling League closed a $7.5 million seed round. Wallace hopes that this funding will enable the league to make major strides in cycling and beyond. “This is not only for cyclists, but in general we are going to push all sports forward in a way that I think is unforeseen at this point. But once people see it and can understand it, it’s going to be incredible.”
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