Nevada City Bicycle Classic a go, despite funding woes | TheUnion.com

Nevada City Bicycle Classic a go, despite funding woes

Some sponsorship funding fell through and its audience has been dwindling.

But the Nevada City Bicycle Classic will carry on, with a new date, new events and a stripped-down budget.

The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the event, voted Monday to proceed with the race with a "bare-bones" budget of $15,000.

"At last look, with the GoFundMe and the current donation commitments, we are about $1,000 short of that goal," said Matt Margulies, the chamber board president.

Margulies added that other potential donors are coming forward and the chamber hopes to exceed $15,000 in order to have a financial cushion.

"We're excited and, needless to say, very happy this is moving forward," he said.

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The future of the race, which began in 1961, had been in serious doubt due to its financial issues and declining popularity.

But a push for funding, including the GoFundMe page set up by long-time sponsor Gold Country Cab & Courier, brought the faltering race back from the brink.

"We've been contributing for quite a few years," said Gold Country Cab owner Jamie Howell, who also volunteers every year.

Employee Rob Goldman came up with the GoFundMe idea, she said.

"It seemed like a good way to go, to get the community to pull together and help save the race," Howell said. "It is the second oldest pro race in the United States, and one of the toughest … It would be a shame for it to go away for lack of funding."

As of Monday afternoon, the fundraising site — which has a $10,000 goal — had raised nearly $3,500. Most of those 50-plus donations were for less than $100, with $500 coming in from cyclist Lance Armstrong.

In recent years, the race has suffered because it competed with other nearby events on Father's Day.

According to Nevada City Mayor Duane Strawser, the race in its heyday drew an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 spectators annually.

Professional athletes, including Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, participated in the past and helped draw an even larger crowd. In 2009, when Armstrong won the race, an estimated 30,000 spectators showed up in Nevada City.

But professional participation has since declined, and spectatorship, as a result, has dwindled too.

Last year, the Nevada City Classic added a gravel grinder ride, sprint races and a run to the event schedule.

Less than 1,000 people turned up to watch the race, in part due to extreme heat, Strawser told The Union.

This year, organizers made the decision to move the race from Father's Day weekend to the June 23-24 weekend.

According to Margulies, organizers hope the timing lures in cyclists planning to compete in a June 23 race in Reno.

The race will also go back to the original course designed by event founder Charlie Allert in 1961. Instead of racers going all the way to the bottom of Broad Street, they will turn left onto North Pine Street, cross Commercial Street and ride past the courthouse before merging back to the course most people are familiar with at York and North Pine streets.

A Nevada City Mile running race that started last year will take place on the same route as the bike race on Sunday. On Saturday, there will be a brew fest with about eight participating breweries and free live music.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Know & Go

What: 58th Annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic

When: June 23-24

For info: Go online at http://www.nevadacityclassic.com

To help financially: http://www.gofundme.com/nevadacityclassic

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