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Mt. Hood Cycling Classic gearing for bigger and better

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

February 22, 2006

The bar has been raised once again for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. After receiving National Racing Calendar (NRC) status from U.S.A. Cycling for last year’s race, the popularity of the fourth annual event skyrocketed. And, in its fifth year running, this spring’s NRC race expects to bring more participants, more press, more prestige and more top-level riders to the roads of the Hood River Valley and the Gorge.

“Last year the event attracted almost 500 riders, including some of North America’s best racers,” event director Chad Sperry commented. “This year we will take it to a whole new level. Being in the NRC series has dramatically boosted the level of competition, and we are ready to step up and offer courses and venues that will truly challenge the elite riders.”

Among the changes in store for this year’s event is the addition of a sixth stage and a fifth day of racing. The new stage will take riders through the arid, desert landscape of the plateaus just east of The Dalles. Participants will now experience the stark contrasts of scenery and climates in this region. They will ride through the steep, dank and densely forested west end of the valley, up the Cooper Spur, through the farm laden rural roads of the central and east valley, down the historical Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, around the precarious downtown criterion course and through the sage brush and wheat fields just east of the Cascades.

In all, men’s pro 1-2 riders will experience 300 miles of roads and 25,000 vertical feet of climbing and the women’s pro 1-2 riders will see 250 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing.

“The addition of a new stage will make that variety even more apparent,” said Sperry. “Last year we had everything from the high 80s and sun to snow, all within a four-day time span. When you’re riding in up in the Cascade Mountains, you never know what to expect. Some locations of the race route receive 70-plus inches of rain a year, while others receive less than 10 inches. I always tell the riders to come prepared for anything.”

Additionally, in store for this year’s race is a substantial increase in the prize list and more NRC points on the line, both due to the increased ranking of the event.

For more information on the event, or to register as a participant, visit: www.mthoodcyclingclassic.com

Local involvement

The local community embraced the race last season. From lining the streets as spectators during the downtown criterion to providing housing for pro riders throughout the race, the community showed tremendous support and approval of the event.

Race organizers are actively seeking two forms of community involvement: host housing and business sponsorship.

Professional racers ride basically as a full-time job. And making a decent living at it is difficult if, not impossible. Therefore, organizers are hoping to find lodging for pro riders who attend the race. Last year the community brought in about 50 riders and, according to Sperry, host families gave tremendously positive feedback on the experience. Host houses are only asked to provide racers with a place to sleep. Other responsibilities, like transportation and food, are still in the hands of the riders.

Business sponsors are also being sought. Advantages of sponsorship include product placement, banner space and web advertisement.

If interested in providing host housing, send an e-mail to: mhcc@gorge.net

If interested in business sponsorship, send an e-mail to:

mhccsponsorship@gorge.net

You may also contact Sperry for questions or for more information at (541) 980-2344.

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