After two successive years of having to remove late-spring snow from some of the highest points on the route of Oregon's Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, promoters have moved the event back one week on the US race calendar. Breakaway Promotions' Chad Sperry said on Friday that the 10th edition of the race will take place from June 8-10 in Hood River.
“All the long-term weather predictions say that we're basically going to go through another La Nina year,” Sperry said. “We're just trying to be proactive in getting ahead of that curve now so we can save time, stress and money.”
Lingering snow pack covered parts of the course just days before scheduled racing on the flanks of Mt. Adams in 2010 and again on Mt. Hood in 2011, causing Breakaway Promotions to pick up the tab for private crews to clear roads that are normally closed until the snow pack melts naturally.
“Last year was the most expensive plowing project we've had to endure,” Sperry said. “Ten days out, we were looking at more than seven miles of snow that had to be removed. A week might not seem like a lot of time to some folks, but at that time of year the snow pack melts rapidly. I've seen instances where three miles of snow can literally disappear within three to four days.”
Beyond helping with the course-clearing efforts, the date change could also free up several professional pro teams to send riders or squads to the race. Conflicts with the Philadelphia races had recently led to diminishing number of pros turning up for the non-NRC race in Oregon.
“It looked like we were once again going to fall on the same weekend as Philly,” Sperry said. “We've competed with Philly in the past, and that hasn't necessarily been a huge issue. But what happened last year with USPro moving to the weekend before in Greenville, that made it tough for teams to send riders and support in for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic.”
The scheduling move puts Hood in potential conflict with the National Criterium Calendar events Tulsa Tough and The Air Force Classic, but Sperry said those races attract a different type of rider than Mt. Hood.
“Tulsa Tough is an outstanding event,” Sperry said. “But it's a completely different demographic and a completely different rider than what is drawn to Hood. I guarantee you, the true sprinter and criterium racers are not going to want to come and suffer at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. And vice versa: the true climbers and time triallists aren't going to want to race Tulsa Tough.”
The 2012 MHCC will feature two road stages, a criterium and a time trial. Details for the first road stage are still being worked out, but Sperry said the Three Summits Road Race, featuring more than 10,000 feet of climbing over 91 miles, will return as the Queen stage. The Hood River downtown criterium will also be back. And in a stroke of good news for the time trial specialists, the challenging Scenic Gorge Time Trial will return after one year off.
“We received a ton of flack last year about the Scenic Gorge Time Trial,” Sperry said. “So we will be bringing it back next year. Everybody agrees that course is second to none for time trialling. As torturous as it is – with quite a bit of climbing and an almost guaranteed headwind – people just have a passion for it.”
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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