Professional bikers from across the country will converge this weekend on the streets of Grandview for an annual event that's become one of the premiere stops on the cycling circuit.

Professional bikers from across the country will converge this weekend on the streets of Grandview for an annual event that's become one of the premiere stops on the cycling circuit.

The Tour de Grandview Cycling Classic has earned its reputation with a unique course layout, top-notch competition and a fan-friendly experience that puts spectators just feet from racers.

"The quality of racer we have is really up there," said J. Baumeister of Tenspeeds Productions, which organizes the event. "We've had people who won here and then won stages at the Tour de France."

One reason racers have come from across the country and as far as Australia is Grandview's diverse terrain, which forces them to excel at different riding techniques. The course features a flat section for making time, an exciting steep run and a grueling uphill climb.

If you've ever tried it, you know it takes some moxie just to do the Grandview Avenue hill once without falling over.

"The racers understand the quality it brings out in them," Baumeister said. "You have to be on your A game to win at Grandview."

Beyond the ropes, fans are treated to a criterium format. This type of race features many laps over a short distance, kind of like how NASCAR works. Instead of watching riders rush by in a single blur, viewers see them pass up to 50 times along the 1.1-mile loop.

The race's compact layout means people also can change vantages quickly to see riders approach different parts of the course.

"You're right there," Baumeister said. "Different parts of the course show you different things about the athletes. They're flying past you. Then you can watch them go up the hill. It's not like you're in C Deck of Ohio Stadium."

Sunday will include seven races for men and women of different classes. Action starts at noon, and the men's pro section begins at 3:45 p.m. A street party is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.

Cycling was once the most popular spectator sport in America, and race organizers hope that heightened local interest in riding bikes will translate into greater fervor for watching the sport at its highest level.

"Once people come out and experience it, then they're cycling fans," Baumeister added. "Plus, it's free."

Did you know?

Up until the 1930s, the most popular type of cycling race was known as the six-day. Crowds would pack indoor tracks at arenas like Madison Square Garden to see men complete as many laps as they could in six days.

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