By MARK FURMAN
Of the Baker City Herald
Nathan Hobson said 15 registered while he was en route from Portland to Baker City on Monday, bringing the total number of racers to more than 260.
By the time the starting gun is fired Friday in the first stage of the Elkhorn Classic bicycle race, race promoter Hobson expects 300 or more racers, hailing from every Western state, plus Canada and New Zealand.
Residents of Northeastern Oregon might want to watch one or more of the four stages and motorists might want to avoid the race's courses or be prepared to follow a few simple steps to ensure the racers' safety and their own.
STAGE 1 OREGON TRAIL ROAD RACE: Friday, the race's first stage begins at 1 p.m. at Baker High School; racers leave by category, with all four categories on the road by 1:25. The route will take the peloton cycling jargon for the pack, or main body of riders through Medical Springs to Union and back to North Powder via Pyles Canyon, then back over Highway 30 to Haines.
The peloton of each of the four categories will leave Baker City in a controlled group, heading north to Highway 203 via the west frontage road.
RIDER TIP: The frontage road has numerous cracks filled with asphalt. Be prepared for multiple jarring blows.
STAGE 2 TIME TRIAL: Saturday morning, racers will leave in 30-second increments for the Wingville Individual Time Trial, a 10-mile out and back beginning west of the Union Pacific Railroad crossing on Pocahontas Road.
STAGE 3 GOLD RUSH CRITERIUM (BEST FOR SPECTATORS): Racers will finish their time trial just in time to rest up for an evening criterium.
In a criterium, racers ride for a set amount of time plus one lap. The first racer across the finish line wins. The short, closed course runs through Baker City's historic downtown and is probably the best for spectators.
The Women's race begins at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Master's Men at 5:10 p.m.; Men Cat 3 and 4 at 6 p.m.; and Men Pro 1, 2 at 6:50 p.m.
The course will be closed to all car and pedestrian traffic. Pedestrians can cross the course during a race at controlled intersections only. The course will be barricaded Saturday morning; cars left parked on the street may be towed.
STAGE 4 DOOLEY MOUNTAIN ROAD RACE: Riders leave Baker City beginning at 8 a.m., head south on Highway 7 to Salisbury Junction and climb Dooley Mountain to the 5,392-foot summit (Baker City sits at 3,449 feet above sea level).
From there, a fast descent down to 4,000 feet into the Burnt River country is followed by rolling hills to Blue Mountain Summit at 5,109 feet en route to Austin Junction.
From Austin Junction, climb to 5,124-foot Tipton summit, pass through the spectacular Whitney Valley and pass Larch Summit (5,082 feet) en route to the Sumpter Valley and Highway 7.
RIDER TIP: This race finishes at the north end of the Bowen Valley, retracing the first few miles of the race.
Among local cyclists, Bowen Valley is notorious for north winds that don't help on the way out and hurt on the way home.