5 questions with…. Duane Strawser | TheUnion.com

5 questions with…. Duane Strawser

Duane Strawser, owner of Tour of Nevada City Bicycles and lead organizer for the Nevada City Bicycle Classic, has been a pivotal figure in the renowned bike race, which celebrates its 48th year Sunday. The Union’s Zuri Berry caught up with Strawser to see how things were going.

How are things going in preparation for this year’s Nevada City Bicycle Classic?

“As well as ever. We’ve had a couple of snags, but snags always seem to show up. Part of doing any event is overcoming those snags. But we lost our announcer a week or so ago. Very little notice. But after scrambling (Tuesday) we’ve had a lot of feedback and a lot of referrals. We think we’re going to have a couple of great announcers that we normally wouldn’t have considered.”

Any names we can announce?

“Michael Hernandez. He’s fairly new to announcing, but he is a long-time top-level racer who I race against still in the master’s category. I didn’t know he announced, but we got swamped with people referring us to him saying ‘he’s been announcing lately and he’s great.’

“And then Tom Simonson who’s a longtime announcer that we had not really forgotten about, he does some of the smaller events. But he’s probably the most knowledgeable and experienced announcer on the West coast … but kind of under the radar at national events, which we are considering. But Nevada City is something he knows. This is his backyard.”

Is there anything new that we can expect of the Classic?

“For the first time in many years we actually have several European-level racers showing up. Tour de France level racers. Which we’re usually lucky to get one because they’re in Europe. But we have so many American teams to come out of the woodwork this year that are European level suddenly, instead of just Lance Armstrong’s Discovery team. Just (Tuesday) we had just three racers alone that are in the top-10 of the country that had e-mailed us and are coming that we didn’t expect to have a chance. We thought they were gone. We thought they were overseas. So probably we’re going to have a better spread, a better percentage of international racers in the mens’ race.”

What do you think is the highlight and draw for people at the classic every year?

“For out-of-towners, for tourists it’s definitely the pro racers … the recognized faces. For locals, we’re hoping it’s more so the Father’s Day weekend tradition again. Actually getting together their families together again for the race. Having barbecues in their yards on the race course. That’s what we’re striving to get back going, is that hometown feeling. You know, the family get-together thing which is really what it was all started for. That’s what we’re trying to do, getting the locals to use it as a family event, a traditional event … as it was.”

How much of this is put on your back?

“Umm… Well, my wife and I. It’s not just my back. Probably 80 percent, 85 percent. I don’t know. The other 15 percent are all the volunteers that show up the day of the race and actually have to show up and physically help us. The other 85 percent is kind of the year-round stuff we have to deal with. We’re already working on next year’s race, which we have to because of corporate sponsorships. So we don’t really get a break from that side of it.”

” Zuri Berry, sports writer

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