June 1, 2005
Can’t make it to Tour de France this year?
Not to worry. The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic will virtually be in our backyard.
Lance Armstrong won’t be in it, but the return of this weekend’s Classic promises plenty of highly talented road racers in our midst.
Sports writer Adam Lapierre writes on page A7 that “the quiet and relaxing picturesque roads of Hood River Valley will soon become the grueling and demanding five-stage, 18,000 vertical-feet road bike course.”
Despite the vertiginous-sounding description, the Classic is a highly accessible event to two-wheel fans and novices alike; page A7 presents plenty of specifics about how to witness the classic in any of its five stages.
To call it one of the most exciting athletic events to come to Hood River says a great deal for this community known for its thrilling activities borne on wind, water, skis, snowboards, and tires.
This year, the National Racing Calendar (NRC) boosted the Classic’s status to one of only 15 sanctioned NRC events of the 2005 season. That NRC move has had immense and immediate effects on the turnout and prestige of the race because- aside from the $20,000 cash purse- teams and individuals can earn points towards the national championship and distinguish themselves for future Olympic consideration. The field includes some strong hometown talent, too.
It must be stressed that the rising popularity of the event is in large part due to the willingness of many community members to open their homes to visiting racers. Such hospitality makes the generous race purses even more attractive to the athletes, but moreover it helps transform a grueling event into a goodwill effort. It’s this approach that gave NRC status to Hood River, the smallest town on the circuit.
Welcome, racers, and thank you, hosts. The rising status of the Cycling Classic helps gear up Hood River as nationally-ranked cycling center.