KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Dozens of cyclists pedaled through downtown Knoxville on Friday night for USA Cycling’s Criterium National Championships.

Among those was Monk Feehery, a professional cyclist who calls Knoxville home.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel met up with Feehery as he got ready to race in his own backyard.

“You can explore so many cool areas. I would have never thought I would be moving to East Tennessee, East Knoxville,” he said. “I had a friend that lived out in Knoxville and we did some cycling together and just fell in love with the area. And the different places the bike can take you is just amazing.”

On Friday night, Feehery’s bike took him downtown. He competed in the Criterium National Championships.

The race is his speed—pun intended.

“That’s my specialty,” he said. “Short, fast. I love the course in Knoxville, it’s the kind of course that never lays off. Even though you have that downhill, you can fly through the downhill part, but you’re pretty much on the gas the whole time, it never lays off.”

Feehery is no stranger to the Knoxville Crit. He raced in 2019 and 2021, but his cycling journey began long before that.

“My dad started racing when he was 23. The whole family would go to the races. We would all hop in the car, we would have our bikes. My dad would have his racing bike, we’d go to the races. I just fell in love with the sport, fell in love with the crowds, fell in love with just being able to ride inside out. See where I can push my limits whether it’s seeing how hard I can go into a turn, or seeing how high I can get my heart rate. So, I just fell in love with the sport and started really racing when I turned 10,” Feehery said.

Now he’s been racing professionally for a decade and hopes to return to the place he loves.

“I love having pro cycling Nationals here,” Feehery said. “It’s such a great venue, the huge crowds. The whole town really gets involved. Knoxville has become a huge cycling community, not just for racing but riders that just want to go out on a stroll on their bike. Having it here, this is home for me. I do not see myself leaving Knoxville, I love Knoxville. Hopefully have a family one day in Knoxville, so I love having nationals here.”