The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic opens in a week, but the race’s fourth stage route is underneath eight feet of snow. Crews are scrambling to clear the road in time for the four-day, five-stage race in and around Hood River, Oregon.
Race director Chad Sperry said that the high mountain forest roads used in the penultimate stage were covered earlier this week, but road crews are working to clear the road in time.
“We went up on Monday and did a full inspection of the course and determined that we still have roughly six to seven miles of roadway covered in snow. In some places the snow is up to seven to eight feet deep,” said Sperry. “We currently have two crews up there chipping away at it but it is going to be time consuming and expensive.”
Earlier in the week, one area of the course known as the Icebox sat beneath snow drifts of up to eight feet.
“Most of the course is on single-lane paved Forest Service roads that wind deep into the Mt. Hood National Forest,” said Sperry. “Imagine riding on a narrow road with an eight-foot wall of snow on either side of you. It is truly going to be epic.”
Sperry dealt with similar conditions for the stage 2 Mount Adams stage last year. Ultimately the road was open for the race, although conditions were less than ideal. Men’s leader Morgan Schmitt (UnitedHealthcare) ceded his yellow jersey after flatting on a long gravel section. In a bizarre series of events, Schmitt took a Campagnolo rear wheel from the depleted neutral service for his SRAM-equipped Kuota while his director Gord Fraser and mechanic Eric Sperling changed a flat tire on the team car. When Schmitt was finally able to take a wheel from the UHC car, he drafted on the bumper back to the chase group he had been in and officials penalized him 20 seconds.
“It has been incredibly crazy weather these past four years in the Northwest with huge snow falls and super cold spring weather,” said Sperry. “When we first started the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic back in 2003 we would see a couple of stubborn snow drifts that would linger but those would still melt out well before race time.”