By Bob Queenan, Post staff reporter
More than 500 cyclists will be pedaling for all they're worth when USA Cycling conducts its elite national championships in Greater Cincinnati and Loveland June 25-28.
That championship, USA Cycling and local officials hope, will turn this region into an amateur racing and recreational cycling hotbed.
''We are interested in developing more than just an event,'' said Evan Call, the managing director of USA Cycling. ''That is just one of a combination of reasons why this championship is being held in the Greater Cincinnati-Loveland area.
''We hope to make Greater Cincinnati-Loveland the first Center for Cycling Excellence in America. To that end, Cycling Cincinnati-Loveland Inc. has been formed (by local interests) to promote future USA Cycling and independent races, rides and events in this area.''
Call said the other reasons USA Cycling chose this region included:
The efforts of the Greater Cincinnati Amateur Sports Association president Nick Vehr to land an Olympic Games.
Loveland mayor Lee Skierkiewicz, who is promoting Loveland as a possible Olympic cycling venue.
The existence of two excellent cycling trails - a 30-mile trail in Loveland, and the new cycling trail in Miami Whitewater Forest.
Don Schumacher, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Sports and Events Commission, and his history of bringing successful national and international events to the region.
''Loveland has an excellent reputation for having an outstanding cycling community,'' said Call. ''There is a lot of enthusiasm there.''
What does USA Cycling hope to gain from bring its national championships here?
''What we really want out of the deal is to develop a long-term relationship between USA Cycling and the Greater Cincinnati-Loveland area,'' he said.
Vehr said the national championships are just one phase of his group's Olympic hopes.
''It could be an important part,'' he said. This event compares favorably to the Final Four in (women's) basketball or hockey or the national track and field finals.''
Skierkiewicz has commissioned a $25,000 study on the feasibility of constructing an indoor velodrome that also would be used for conventions and meetings.
Greater Cincinnati and Loveland have been guaranteed a major USA Cycling race in 1999, said Betsy Neyer, Cycling Celebration director.
Neyer said the masters cycling championships for ages 35 and over could bring at least 3,000 to 5,000 riders to this area next year. As it is, this year's national elite championships will bring in 500 to 600 riders.
Cincinnatians already are highly involved in non-racing cycling.
''We have a membership of more than 1,400 in the summertime,'' said Karen Waters, a member of the Cincinnati Cycling Club. ''Ours is a strictly recreational, non-competition organization.''
The club's Chili Century ride is May 3 at Goshen High School.
Cycling in Cincinnati
What: USA Cycling championships.
Where: Greater Cincinnati.
Who: Amateur racing and recreational cyclists from across the U.S.
Schedule: Time trials June 25 go through Milford through Loveland, Morrow and Yellow Springs. Road race on June 27 goes through Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Criterium on June 28 is in Loveland.
The weekend: Youth safety clinics.
Police mountain bike challenge: Road racing and obstacle course for police officers.
Publication date: 04-21-98
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