Local cycle-racing fans experienced a first last weekend when the inaugural Mt. Hood Cycling Classic shifted into high gear in and around Hood River.
Beginning with a warm-up time trial on May 29 and concluding with the 75-mile Three-Summit Road Race on Sunday, the four-day, five-stage series
attracted more than 260 riders from the West Coast and beyond.
And when it was all said and done, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic had already been billed as one of the most enjoyable races for everyone involved — from the competitors to the sponsors to the race organizers.
“We definitely exceeded our expectations for a first-year event,” said race director Chad Sperry. “The competition was outstanding and the weather couldn’t have been any better. We have just been bombarded by positive feedback from everyone who participated, and I have no doubt that we will have an even better race next year.”
Sperry said that he already has verbal commitments from most of the sponsors, which included local entities such as Full Sail Brewing, Cooper Spur Mountain Resort and Discover Bicycles.
Thus far, the only feedback Sperry has received has been positive, and based on comments from the community, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic could soon garner the same excitement as the Gorge Games.
“I was really impressed with the turnout for Saturday’s downtown criterium race,” Sperry said. “And I think it also fueled the fire for the riders to know that so many people were there to cheer them on.”
Saturday’s Downtown Hood River Criterium was stage four of the five-stage event, which also included two time trials and two long-distance road races of 75 miles.
The Criterium took riders on a winding, weaving course around the Full Sail Brewery, with competitors reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
Russell Stevenson of Team Health Net won the stage for the Pro-Elite division, but ended up finishing second overall to Dylan Sebel of California-based race team Broadmark Capital.
Evan Elken, also of Broadmark Capital, took third overall after winning the final stage — Sunday’s Three-Summit Road Race.
Becky Broeder of the Intermountain Cycling Organization (ICO) placed first in the women’s Pro-Elite division, and was followed by teammate Lisa Magness. Local rider Alice Pennington finished fourth overall.
Another notable local finish was turned in by Jim Pennington, who was sixth overall in the Masters division.
“We keep hearing that this was one of the most physically demanding races that any of the competitors had ever been involved in,” Sperry said. “But we’re also hearing that it was one of the funnest and most scenically beautiful races as well.”
Riders in all four divisions commented on the superb organization of the race, and based on the feedback Sperry has heard, next year’s race could be even bigger.
“We want to put on an even better event next year,” he said. “The local support was truly amazing and many people were saying that this was the best first-year event they had ever attended.”
Sperry was not shy in his praise of co-promoters such as Julie and Shane Wilson, managers at Discover Bicycles in downtown Hood River; media liaison Lori Waters; race organizer Jeff Lorenzen; and Mt. Hood Meadows Public Affairs and Marketing Director Dave Tragethon, who helped design and update the event’s comprehensive Web site.
“I can’t say enough about the support staff,” Sperry said. “They all wanted to make sure that this event went off without a hitch, and because of everyone’s efforts, we are the talk of the Northwest cycling community right now.”
For additional information about last weekend’s event, visit www.mthoodcyclingclassic.com.