Friday, June 7, 2013
Organizers started the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic 11 years ago with humble roots and grand aspirations.
The open roads, breathtaking scenery and fun-loving communities of the Gorge had been enjoyed by cyclists for years, but were just barely being “discovered” by Northwest, national and international audiences as an epic cycling destination.
Within a few years, the MHCC garnered national attention and picked up an endorsement from USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar. A few more years down the road and the event was known throughout the professional cycling world as one of the most beautiful, and challenging, races on the NRC. Since then it has brought thousands of racers — including 16 national champions and eight Olympic gold medalists — from 21 countries to Hood River for the three-day, multi-stage contest.
“It is with mixed emotions that this will be the last year of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic,” race director Chad Sperry of Breakaway promotions said of the June 21-21 race. “I feel excited and content that we lasted as long as we did; mosty events like this have a life span of about five to seven years. But it’s also a bit of a bummer because of what the race means to the community and to Breakaway Promotions. The MHCC was the whole foundation of Breakaway Promotions — it’s the reason we got started — and we are now running a number of large cycling events across the country.”
Sperry said the MHCC hasn’t made money in about five years, due mainly to a nationwide trend of dwindling industry and corporate sponsorships. The decision, he said, is a positive financial move for BP since it will free up thousands of hours of staff time to work on more financially viable events.
Although larger sponsorship has imploded in recent years, local sponsors have remained loyal to the event throughout its history. Sperry said a number of sponsors have been with the event for all 11 years, including Full Sail, Hood River Inn, Cooper Spur, Discover Bicycles, Bicoastal Media and New York City Subs.
“Since this is the last year we want to make sure the community takes advantage of everything the event has to offer,” Sperry said. “We would love to have everyone come out and enjoy the fun one last time.”
For more information about the MHCC, schedules, stage maps, rider hosting, volunteering and more, visit www.mthoodcyclingclassic.com.
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge