Downtown Criterium on brink of action

May 28

In exactly one week, the streets of downtown Hood River will be one of the most challenging and action packed road-bike courses in the country. Spectators will have front row seats Saturday evening as Mt. Hood Cycling Classic competitors dodge and weave their way around the sharp, steep corners of the Downtown Hood River Criterium Stage of the four—day competition.

"The downtown stage is going to be absolutely crazy," event director Chad Sperry said. "Of all five stages of the Classic, it is by far the most action— packed and spectator— friendly. It's the most technical criterium course in the North West … maybe in the country. Spectators can get within inches of guys whizzing by at 40 plus miles an hour jammed elbow to elbow and wheel to wheel. It's going to be crazy."

The course will start in front of Full Sail Brewing Company and proceed clockwise uphill on Columbia until it meets Wasco St. Riders will turn right down Wasco, gaining speed for the hairpin right hand corner onto Industrial. They will then ride a long flat stretch to pick up speed before entering into a four-corner square block that will drop the riders back onto the finishing stretch about 200 meters from the finish line.

Each division of racers will take on the course separately, with riders completing as many laps as possible in the time allotted. Masters: Start first at 5 p.m. with 35 minutes. Men 3: Second at 5:45 p.m. with 35 minutes. Women: Third at 6:30 p.m. with 40 minutes. Pro: 7:20 p.m. with 50 minutes.

The best two places to watch the race are the S-curves on the far west end of the course and the finish line. "The sound of scraping metal and shouting can be heard all evening long as riders lean their bikes so far over their pedals drag on the asphalt. The S-Curves allow you to get within inches of the riders as they careen around the corners at 40— plus miles per hour," said Sperry. "And the finish line is where the primes and sprint finishes will be."

Spectator parking will be available at the Sprint Complex, as all streets involved in the race will be closed to traffic.

Along with the racing action, music, food, drinks, concessions, and booths will surround the finish line area.

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