Bear Lake Classic kicks off the cycling season

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The Bear Lake Classic kicked off this season’s road bike races in its 12th year of operation last weekend. The beautiful, blue water of Bear Lake acts as a one-of-a-kind backdrop for both riders and spectators.

“This race is unique because it’s the start of the season,” said Troy Oldham, Bear Lake Classic race director. “The traffic is still mild, and it’s not too hot.”

Phil Patten, a local cyclist, rode in the Bear Lake Classic for the first time last weekend. “I have done the course for fun more than a dozen times, but this is the first time I actually raced it,” Patten said. “This is my favorite 50-mile bike ride, hands down.”

A biker riding in the Bear Lake Classic enjoys the scenery of the countryside. Racers have the option of both a 50- and 100-mile bike ride. (Headspin Events)

The classic is uniquely designed to accommodate both professional and recreational riders. The event traditionally offers both a 50- and 100-mile race as well as a relay race and a junior course. But this year, the Bear Lake Classic added a course that gave racers an opportunity to gain an advantage over prospective racers of the Tour of Utah.

“The Tour of Utah has announced the first stage of their race,” Oldham said. “It will start in Logan city center, go up Logan Canyon, once around Bear Lake and then back up the summit to Logan.” The classic will be a chance for racers and recreational riders to actually ride the 55-mile first stage of the Tour of Utah — the same course the pros will be riding on Aug. 3.

“It was fun to be in a race with semi-pros,” Patten said. “I got a little piece of what it would feel like to be in the Tour de France.”

But the riders weren’t the only ones to benefit from this event. “Any event that is held up here is good for local businesses,” said Terra Trenery, a long-time Bear Lake resident. “A lot of smaller businesses only open in the summertime, so they need the tourism. There isn’t enough business to stay open in the winter, which means they only have a few months to earn what they can. Bike races mean more people in town, which helps local restaurants, souvenir shops and recreational rental shops. I think it’s a good thing to have the race here.”

Riders of the Bear Lake Classic enjoy scenes of both the lake and the agriculture. Racers have the option of both a 50- and 100-mile bike ride. (Headspin Events)

Bear Lake and its small businesses gladly welcomed all of the new customers last weekend with more than 200 riders who made the trip with their families and friends. The only downside was that the weather wasn’t as cooperative as wanted. “Things were a little wet over the weekend, but we still had a good turnout,” Oldham said.

Hardly ever has a little bad weather stopped some of these dedicated cyclists from racing. “There is a lot of very specialized gear for harsh-weather riding,” Patten said. “I have an attitude of, ‘A bad day outside is still better than the best day at spin class.'”

 Many more races are to follow this summer and cyclists are hoping for pristine conditions. Some of Utah’s most popular races for family, racers and semi-pros alike include Antelope by Moonlight, Salt to Saint and the Cache Valley Gran Fondo. In fact, the race director of the Cache Valley Fondo is offering a 20 percent discount to those who register with the promo code BYUniverse2015.

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