FORT HOOD (September 30, 2012)--One of the biggest bicycle races in the state wrapped up this weekend in Central Texas. This year's Texas State Championship Road Race had a 15% increase in participants. Despite some heavy rain this weekend, the state race on Fort Hood had more than 800 participants, which is the most in the past four years.
Race organizers say the race brings in more than just participants around the state. With the increase of participants, comes increased revenues for local businesses.
"If we could do bike week every week, I'd do it," said Applebee's manager Kevin Jones. "This weekend has been busy, busy, busy. We probably made about three to four thousand dollars the past couple of days."
The only way to the race is through Copperas Cove. Organizers say business revenues for Copperas Cove and the surrounding areas have increased dramatically every year around the time of the state race.
"They stay in our hotels, they eat in our restaurants, they shop in our stores, buy gas in our gas stations," said Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce President Betty Price. "That brings a lot of money into our community when we host an event of this scale."
Organizers estimate this year's state race brought in at least $180,000, not including revenues made from those who come to Copperas Cove each week to train for the race.
Another benefit is the boost it brings to soldiers and the Central Texas community.
"The morale is great, and we always talk about morale with soldiers, but in this case, morale with the civilian population as well," said Capt. Lloyd Loop of Fort Hood Police Dept. "The community that supports and works with us here, this is something that we look forward to."
Racers say the venue is what makes it so special: a paved 33-mile loop with no cars in sight. Plus, just being on Fort Hood and around the soldiers brings the community together.
"This is a great benefit to the soldiers because Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Killeen, all the local areas fully support us," said Sgt. Lori Singer Henderson of Fort Hood DES Law Enforcement Division. "It's great for us that we can give back to those communities for as much as they give to us soldiers."
The Texas State Championship Road Race is a collaborative effort between the Texas Bicycle Racing Association, Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and Fort Hood.