Coast Hills Classic ‘best ever’

A hundred and seventy-five of the Northwest's top cyclists raced Saturday. (photo by Jeremy Burke)

NEWPORT — With a gut-busting fusion of torturous terrain, claustrophobic forest trails, wild animals and stunning ocean views, the 12 miles of the Coast Hills Classic Mountain Bike Race drew 175 of the Northwest’s top cyclists Saturday.

The finale’ of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association’s off-road series, the Coast Hills Classic raised more than $5,000 that will be used for youth scholarships at the Newport Recreation Center.

“It’s the best race we’ve put on in years,” asserted Mike Cavenaugh, a race organizer and recreation director for the City of Newport who said scores of volunteers spent weeks making new trails and trimming existing ones along a course that stretched from Oregon Coast Community College to the rugged geography around the Newport Airport, where riders climbed 400 feet in a mile and cycled by a herd of resident elk.

Moved from its traditional April date to June, the course was free of the mud that once covered race finishers and their bikes.

“The trails weren’t rivers, they were trails,” beamed Cavenaugh, who said upbeat comments poured in from out-of-area competitors. “Returning riders said the course was in fabulous shape. They were in awe of the perfect weather and amazing terrain with all the undergrowth you don’t see in the high desert or other race locations.”

Daniella Crowder of Bike Newport, a sponsor and organizer, said the event may have drawn as many as 500 people, including the typical biker entourage of family and friends. She called the event a “public-private partnership,” citing the array of landowners, city bureaus and businesses that worked to make the event happen.

It was the ninth year of the revived Coast Hills Classic, which began decades earlier when high school teacher Dave Campbell had the idea to start a bike race. Today, it is the only sanctioned mountain bike race at the Oregon coast.

Oscar Guevera, 29, of Vancouver, Wash., was the overall winner of the men’s 12-mile race with a time of 59:00.5; Bridget Franek, 30, of Eugene won the overall women’s 12-mile on a time of 1:09:25.8.

Overall winner of the men’s “double-lapper,” 24-mile race was Massimo Larsen of Bend, 1:36:32.5. Overall winner of the women’s 24-mile race was Holland LaRue, 41, of Hood River with a time of 2:02:15.6.

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