Crowds flock to race |

Crowds flock to race

The attendance at Sunday’s 48th Annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic was the best in years, race organizer Duane Strawser said Wednesday.

Strawser estimates that between 4,000 and 6,000 people watched the classic at some point during the five races held from 1 to 6:30 p.m. in downtown Nevada City.

“The crowds were better than we expected,” Strawser said. “Twice, we had to disperse people who were sitting on the boardwalk at Nevada City Elementary because so many were sitting there.”

Strawser said he is aware that many people compare today’s crowds with the race’s heyday, when as many as 20,000 spectators would fill the streets. On Sunday, one of the most-heard comments on Broad Street was that attendance was sparse.

The event also had more of a party atmosphere during its heyday, while today’s crowds seem more sports-oriented, said Cathy Whittlesey, executive director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

On Wednesday, Strawser pointed out that not everyone watches the race from Broad Street. Spectators come and go all day, and the crowd swelled by the time the final race started at 5 p.m. No tickets are sold, so it is impossible to get precise attendance figures.

“It turned out great. It wasn’t like the ’70s or ’80s, but it is what it is,” Whittlesey added.

Strawser also praised the city’s recent repaving of Union and Cottage streets, which made for a smooth day for the riders.

“This was the safest race we have had in recorded history, primarily due to the new asphalt,” he said.

When asked if she was disappointed that some downtown businesses were closed Sunday, Whittlesey pointed to the Classic’s long tradition in Nevada City.

“The Classic has been going on for 48 years, and most of these businesses have not been here as long as the race,” she said. “So they should have known that when they bought their businesses.”

To contact Staff Writer Pat Butler, e-mail or call 477-4239.

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