Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Registration Opens For The Dalles' Inaugural Cherry Blossom Classic

The "sunny" side of Oregon will get a chance to shine this spring when The Dalles hosts the inaugural Cherry Blossom Classic, a three-day, four-stage contest that runs Friday, April 3, through Sunday, April 5.

Organized by Breakaway Promotions and Sorella Forte, the race could provide a relatively warm, dry reprieve from northwest Oregon's annual spring slogs. Promoters say the area boasts an average April rainfall of just half an inch and an average daily high temperature of 64 degrees.

"The Dalles truly is the Banana Belt of the region," according to the race website. "There are no guarantees when it comes to weather, but odds are you are going to like what the region has to offer."

The region also can offer some great courses, which furnish both breathtaking views and lung-crushing climbs.

Featured in the 2006 and 2007 editions of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, the Columbia Hills Road Race will start the fun Friday:
The largest climb is the Kelly Cut-Off Road at five percent for 1.5 miles. The biggest challenge is typically the wind, which at times can blow hard across the treeless landscape and whip through the canyons. This year’s course will be modified from previous years with the elimination of Crash Canyon (saving that venue for the time trial), shortening the entire loop to a 20 mile circuit.
Riders will start Saturday's double-header with the 8-Mile Crash Canyon Time Trial:
In the 2007 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic this section of road received its now infamous name when the very narrow, winding road combined with a huge pro men’s field to send several riders to the local hospital. As a time trial course it offers a beautiful and quiet venue where riders ascend a gradual two percent grade up to the turn around. Then it's all downhill to the finish. Fast times are expected on this smooth course.
Saturday's racing will continue with the Cherry City Criterium in downtown The Dalles.
A fast, flat rectangular course with no significant elevation gain or loss and wide roads will make this an all out drag race. Great asphalt and tons of space to move. The biggest challenges could be the strong head winds on the back stretch and finishing stretches.
Featuring 6,420 feet of climbing for the pro 1/2 men and 4,280 for everyone else, Sunday's Columbia Gorge Road Race promises to end The Cherry Blossom Classic on a high note:
This road course first debuted in the 1999 Oregon State Road Race Championships and quickly gained popularity. The race gets down to business early with a significant climb just three miles in. Once you hit the summit, it's a long fast decent into the small town of Mosier on the Columbia River. The route then joins the world famous Mt. Hood Cycling Classic time trial course running on the Historic Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway, descending the spectacular Rowena Loops (pictured above) on the way back to the start/finish line in The Dalles. The pro 1/2 men and masters men will race 66 miles. All other categories will do 44.
Pro 1-2 Men, Masters Men, CAT 3 Men, CAT 4 Men
Pro 1-3 Women, CAT 4 Women/Masters Women (scored separately).

Registration opened Jan. 12. Register by Feb. 25 and receive a $10 discount. Field limits are mandatory. Register online HERE.