FORT HOOD — The Fort Hood Challenge is expected to bring about 750 cyclists to Copperas Cove and about 1,000 visitors to the city for a two-day bike race on post.
Cyclists competing on the 33-mile closed course loop are participating in the Texas State Road Championship.
“It is a big deal. It is the state championship,” said Andy Hollinger, the race’s promoter. “It is the last road event for the 2013 season sanctioned by the official bike racing association of Texas.”
Fort Hood closes range roads to allow the cyclists to ride the loop and not compete with motor vehicle traffic. The professional-level racers will manage the loop three times for a nearly 100-mile competition.
“The road runs right by the range, so a lot of the racers are in for a treat,” said Betty Price, Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau’s president. “(Riders) actually enjoy seeing the tanks, helicopters and soldiers as they ride down through the ranges.” The Cove Chamber of Commerce is one of many event sponsors.
Cove has hosted the race for more than a decade, including the last five years the race was conducted on post.
The only access point to the race is through Copperas Cove on North Farm-to-Market Road 116.
The course features some challenging climbs and descents for riders, Hollinger said.
“It is a unique place to race,” he said. “When all that comes together, it makes an interesting ride.”
“You have to be physically and mentally prepared,” Price said.
There are about 10 categories each day, and they range from professional all the way down to rookie, Hollinger said. There are races for everyone, for 10- to 11-year-olds all the way to 70-plus.
The race should attract residents from the immediate area but also Dallas, Austin and Houston. Some teams of cyclists may come even farther distances.
“I have seen some Baylor race jerseys. I have seen some Texas Tech race teams. It is not uncommon that we will have people come Louisiana and people especially from our border states,” Price said.
The race also will hopefully draw a fair number of military personnel, Price said.
A military race allows active-duty members to race one 33-mile loop for free. Some of the proceeds from the event will be donated to military charities.