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Bend vies to host cyclocross championships in ’09, ’10

    Bend tourism and city officials, professional cyclocross racers and the Oregon Sports Authority have signed on to support a bid to bring a national bike race to the city next year that would provide an estimated $2.5 million boost to the visitor economy during an otherwise slow time for tourism.

    The Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau announced on Thursday the city’s bid for the 2009 and 2010 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Bend. The event would be held in mid-December.

    If secured, fans of the emerging sport of cyclocross — which is an off-road version of a road race with a series of obstacles where riders dismount and are forced to carry their bikes — would likely flood into Bend for four to five days of races.
    Portland played host to the cyclocross championships in 2003 and 2004. The races were held at the Portland International Raceway.

    The spectator-friendly event pits riders against the clock on bikes that are a cross between road bikes and mountain bikes. The race could be held in forests, on dirt paths and open rolling terrain, according to USA Cycling, which holds the race annually.

    The race attracts about 1,800 competitors annually and brings a total of 3,500 to 4,000 people, including support staff, families and media, according to Doug LaPlaca, the president and CEO of the Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau, part of a group trying to secure the race.

    Because the championships typically occur the second weekend in December — when occupancy levels in Bend lodging properties are well below 40 percent — they would provide a welcome boost for the local tourism economy, LaPlaca said.

    “We will compete very well with other bids for this event,” LaPlaca said. “Bend offers a unique mix of attributes that other destinations vying for the bid can’t offer, such as the amenities and enthusiasm in this community. Many professional athletes have chosen to live here because it is so cycling-friendly.”

    About six different cities across the country are expected to submit bids for the race this year, said Tom Vinson, national events manager for Colorado Springs, Colo.-based USA Cycling.

    Bend is the first city to bid for the cyclocross championships. The winning bid will be announced by the end of the year, Vinson said.

    The organization will look for a city that is accessible via air travel and has enough hotels to accommodate the people expected to visit, Vinson said.

    “There are several areas in the country where cyclocross is a hot commodity and the Pacific Northwest is one of them,” Vinson said. “The size of town doesn’t matter as long as there (are) enough people to support the race and getting there is relatively simple.”

    The cyclocross event was hosted by Providence, R.I., in 2005 and 2006, and by Kansas City, Mo., in 2007, where it had an estimated economic impact of $2.5 million, Vinson said. The event will be held in Kansas City again this year.

    World-class destination
    The Bend bid is part of an ongoing effort by Portland-based Oregon Sports Authority to promote the state as a world-class sports destination. The organization launched its Central Oregon chapter in October, the first chapter outside Portland since starting 15 years ago.

    Since forming in October, the organization has announced that it would bring two events to Central Oregon this year.
    Mt. Bachelor ski area will host the USA. Winter Triathlon National Championships — a mix of cross-county skiing, cross-country mountain biking and running on snow — on Feb. 9. The event was previously held in the Rocky Mountains, according to Drew Mahalic, the CEO of the nonprofit organization.

    Additionally, the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond will be the host site for the American Bicycle Association BMX Great Northwest Nationals, which will be held April 4-6, he said.

    The organization played a supportive role in bringing the Cyclocross National Championships to Portland in 2003 and 2004, Mahalic said.

    The organizing committee being assembled to pursue the event includes representatives from the Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau, Oregon Sports Authority, city of Bend, Bend City Council, Riverhouse Conference Center, Central Oregon Velo and representatives from Bend’s cycling community, according to a press release from the visitor bureau.

    — Article by Jeff McDonald, The Bend Bulletin, January 11, 2008


    Watch our two minute video to learn more about the Oregon Sports Authority's efforts to promote the state as a premier sports destination.


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