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Pro racer praises Hood River spirit

News staff writer

June 10, 2006

The Mount Hood Cycling Classic brought about 200 professional riders to Hood River last week for the fourth annual, five-day stage race. About 70 of those pros were hosted by local families and given places to stay, which helped offset the cost of the often low-paid traveling lifestyles of pro cyclists.

The event went smoothly and was a success on all accounts, leaving competitors with great things to say about the race, the scenery and the Hood River community.

Professional women’s racer Alisha Lion finished in a close second place in the pro women’s category, just 21 seconds behind the overall champion. The North Carolina resident offered the following account of her time in Hood River:

“Hood River is such an amazing place to have an epic stage race like the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Not only is the riding phenomenal, but the community just bends over backwards for you. And the thing is, I can tell that it’s just how people are here ... it’s not that people helped because they have to; it’s because everyone is so friendly and that is how life goes here. I really love that about Hood River.

“This year, the Webcor-Platinum team was hosted by Jen Wilson and her family. They were true angels for us. Anything we needed at all, Jen was there to provide for us. We were able to relax and focus on the race when we needed, and Jen was there to give us tips on where to go to have fun or look for fun when we wanted to.

“I am staying longer in Hood River to train until my next race in Philly because the community is so great. The training is amazing, for sure, but I wouldn’t stay here unless I really felt like I was at home. I had this sense of home when I was here at the race last year and I wanted to utilize that when I came back this year.

“Chad (Sperry) does such an amazing job at supporting women racers and trying to make the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic the best race on the National Racing Calendar. I want to do everything I can to support a positive environment and family-oriented atmosphere that I feel in Hood River.”

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