Tour de Hood two-day recreational challenge

Organisers of the Mt Hood Cycling Classic are aiming to give spectators a taste of what it's like to conquer some of the same courses used by the pros, with a blend of participation and spectator event planned for Saturday, May 17. Riders will start from Cooper Spur Resort, a full three hours before the professional racers take to the road from the same start and can either aim to outrun the pro caravan over 89 miles or pedal to a prime viewing spot on the final climb to Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort.

From there they can watch the race in person, Tour de France-style, just feet away from the racers as they fly past up the road. A barbeque courtesy of Mt Hood Meadows awaits at the top for all, and riders will transfer by bus back to the starting point or seal their toughness by riding the 14 miles back to Cooper Spur Resort and completing a century.

The ride continues Sunday morning with terrain featuring the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway, portions of which are closed to traffic. The riders will depart in the morning from Hood River for 42 miles of challenging and breathtaking terrain and return in time for the stage 6 Hood River Criterium that afternoon.

"The Tour de Hood is a natural add-on for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Riders," said organiser Chad Sperry. "We've been meaning to do this for several years and we finally found in Kendra Wenzel the right director who has experience in multi-format events such as the Sea Otter Classic. At the same time we can use our existing infrastructure to create this ride, we can benefit a great cause like the Lance Armstrong Foundation and raise funds to ensure future editions of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic."

The weekend event will feature rest stations stocked with local, high-energy foods, and mechanical support on the road. "I fully expect this ride to grow like crazy," said Wenzel. "We have a classic course in more ways than one, a great organization and we have the added excitement of the challenge of outrunning the top pro racers on the US circuit."

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