Five days, six stages and 300 miles of racing starts today

News staff writer

May 31, 2006

Registration for the 2006 Mount Hood Cycling Classic closed this week with 515 riders signed up from 30 states and six different countries (Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, Italy, Canada and the U.S.), leaving race organizers excited for the week to come. The fourth annual event starts today in Pine Grove and will conclude Sunday afternoon at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, where this year’s champions will be crowned.

Many of the top professional riders and teams from the U.S. and Canada, along with hundreds of amateurs, are in town for what is now considered the most scenic and challenging west coast event on the National Racing Calendar.

The following is a stage-by-stage breakdown of the MHCC:

Stage 1 —

Panorama Point Prologue

Wednesday, May 31

Start time: 5 p.m.

The MHCC will open with this 3-mile, straight shoot from The Fruit Company in Pine Grove to Panorama Point. This stage will give riders the opportunity to get a place and time in the race and get their legs ready for the more difficult rides that will follow. This is a time trial, meaning riders will start one at a time and will race the clock.

Stage 2 —

Columbia Hills Road Race

Thursday, June 1

Start time: 10 a.m.

This stage is new to the Classic this year. It was added for two main reasons. The first is that it is located in the arid plains just east of The Dalles, which adds a significantly different climate and scenic element to the MHCC as a whole. The second reason is that much of the MHCC favors strong climbers and the Columbia Hills course is long and relatively flat, which helps even out the playing field for competitors stronger in sprint-style riding.

The course, which starts at Petersburg Elementary School Resort and finishes at Petersburg Elementary School, is 28 miles per lap. The pro men will complete three laps and the pro women will do two.

Stage 3 —

Cooper Spur Circuit Race

Friday, June 2

Start time: Pros and Masters start at 9 a.m., Men 3,4 and women 3/4 start at 2:30 p.m.

Simply said, this stage is brutal. It will be the first major test for the riders, as the course puts the pro men through 95 miles of mountain roads and 9,000 feet of climbing. Riders in all divisions will start and finish at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. The course starts with a cruise down Cooper Spur Road for about 10 miles until it reaches Parkdale. It then heads east and meets up with Highway 35, where riders will then climb uphill to the Cooper Spur turn-off. Each lap is 18.7 miles. The pro men will complete five laps, the pro women, masters and Men 3 riders will have three and the Men 4 and Women 3/4 will have two laps.

Stage 4 —

Scenic Gorge Time Trial

Saturday, June 3

Start time: Men 3 start at 8:30 a.m., other classes follow.

This time trial race will start and finish in downtown Mosier. Competitors will take off individually, one every 30 seconds, and race the clock for the 10.5 miles of scenic Gorge riding. The course is an out-and-back ride from Mosier east to Rowena Dell and back.

Kids’ Stage Race:

Saturday, June 3

Start time: Registration 9 a.m., racing at 10 a.m.

The kids’ race is meant to give local youngsters a taste of the fun. There will be two stages: A dual slalom and a sprint race. Competitors need no racing experience and all that is required is a bicycle and proper safety gear. Courses will be set up in the Sprint parking lot in downtown Hood River. Age divisions will be: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 and 10-12. The race will be open to 150 riders so, although pre-registration is not necessary, it is encouraged (to register e-mail Jennifer at: jenwilson@gorge.net).

Stage 5 —

Downtown Hood River Criterium

Saturday, June 3

Start time: Men 3 — 5 p.m., Masters 5:45 p.m., Women pro 6:30 p.m., Men pro 7:20 p.m.

This stage is an exciting, action-packed circuit race around the streets of downtown Hood River. In what is by far the most entertaining and spectator-friendly stage of the MHCC, riders will start in front of Full Sail Brewing and race in a clockwise direction around a block of downtown that features several steep, sharp corners. Last year spectators lined almost the entire course. Music, food and crowds, paired with an extremely tight, technical and risky course makes for an entertaining and exciting evening.

Each lap is about a kilometer, with the pro men riding for 60 minutes, the pro women for 45 and the Men 3 and Masters riding for 35 minutes.

Stage 6 —

Three Summit Road Race

Sunday, June 4

Start time: Pro men at 8:30 a.m., others follow

This stage is 75 miles and 7,500 feet of climbing. It takes riders from Cooper Spur Mountain Resort in a massive loop through some of Mount Hood’s most scenic forest roads. Riders will descent from Cooper Spur to Dee, where they will face significant climbs up Lost Lake Road, Vista Ridge and eventually back up Cooper Spur Road. Organizers are hoping for better weather for the stage this year, as riders last year experienced snow at the top of Vista Ridge. The final leg of the stage, and of the MHCC will take riders back up Cooper Spur road for one final lung-burning climb to the finish line at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort.

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