June 1, 2005
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 called the 2005 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic.
This year the National Racing Calendar (NRC) boosted the Classic's status to one of only 15 sanctioned NRC events of the 2005 season.
The adoption of the event by the NRC 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.
"Registration is already well ahead of previous years," race director Chad Sperry commented. "But the impact isn't just in quantity. The strength of the field has also been raised. It's going to be exciting to see national champions and Olympians competing on our local roads and venues." Currently, more than 460 riders have pre-registered for the race — a figure that has almost doubled since the first Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in 2003.
Hood River is by far the smallest host city on the 2005 National Racing Calendar. According to Sperry, the impact of a NRC race is huge, even in larger cities that have superior infrastructure and financial resources to support a large race.
"The residents and business people of Hood River have been incredibly supportive of the whole event. This allows us to offer something unique to the racing circuit because we have big-time racing with small-town charm and appeal."
The first stage starts Thursday evening at Pine Grove School. Four stages and hundreds of miles later, competitors will cross the final finish line Sunday morning at Cooper Spur Ski Area.
The time between — for racers and race fans at least — will be passionate, intense, and full of high-speed action.
Below is a stage-by-stage spectator's guide to the 2005 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic.