Wheels turned and bicycle spokes sparkled in the sunlight Saturday at the annual Megan Babb Memorial Classic. But other shining moments occurred when visitors who came to Cove for the race spent their money in the city.

Betty Price, Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce president, said the city benefitted financially from the event, both directly and indirectly.

“About 300 riders attended. We had 18 rooms spending an average of $89 per night, plus $50 for food and gas,” she said. “For the day trippers, $50 per day.”

The ride brought an estimated $16,600 in direct spending. For every dollar spent, $1.88 is the induced effect of direct purchases a traveler makes. So more than $31,000 was pumped into the Cove economy through indirect spending, according to the chamber.

Connor Steward, 19, and Dillion Fowler, 19, both ride on a collegiate team for Abilene Christian University. They spent money on a hotel, food and other items while in the area. Both are avid cyclists and said riding is worth every penny.

“I got my first racing license when I was 8. I have won many state and national titles,” Steward said. “I love cycling. I will absolutely do this until the day I die.”

It’s that kind of commitment that Copperas Cove counts on each year to pedal money into the economy. In addition to the Megan Babb Memorial Ride, Cove also hosts the Great American Bicycle Race. Last year more than 850 riders booked 227 hotel rooms at an approximate cost of $125 each. The 2013 race welcomed riders from eight different states. Just from  hotel sales alone, $23,875 was spent directly and $53,345 indirectly. The chamber budgets $7,000 to execute the event.

Andy Hollinger, who was in charge of Saturday’s race, said  Copperas Cove was named Texas’ most cycling-friendly city and that is why the racing season begins and ends in Cove.

Jorge Maldonado is a mechanic for the city of Killeen. He rides on the Copperas Cove team known as “Road Kill.” He said he rides to represent the area. “So many people are from out of town. This is a local event coming to us. It’s like a festival,” said Maldonado who trains four times a week riding 40-60 miles each outing. “The community is very friendly and respects cyclists. That’s why its the cyclists’ favorite city.”

Contact Wendy Sledd at wsledd@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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