It might be blowing snow or pouring rain topside.
But that won’t matter to several hundred bicycle riders who’ll be zooming around a cavernous underground racecourse March 29 deep inside the Springfield Underground mine in Springfield.
The bike race is called Round and Round the Underground and is a joint fundraising project by the bicycling groups Missouri Off Road Cyclists and TrailSpring, which operates the Two Rivers mountain bike park south of Springfield.
“This is the first bike event inside Springfield Underground that we know of,” said MORC president William Angle. “It will be a one-mile lap around a couple of buildings down there. People at the race headquarters will be able to see the riders go by on every lap.”
Springfield Underground is hosting the Sunday afternoon event. Springfield Underground is a cavernous limestone mine, and some of the excavated areas have been turned into climate-controlled space for numerous businesses.
It could be 10 below zero outside, but inside the mine the temperature is always a steady 60 degrees — perfect for bike racers.
Angle said he hopes the event will draw up to 400 bicyclists, including some top mountain bike competitors from surrounding states. Entry fees haven’t yet been set, but Angle said they’ll probably be in the $60 to $70 range.
“The course is half paved and half gravel, so ideally you’ll have mountain bikes with treaded tires,” Angle said. “You won’t be able to ride if your bike tires don’t have tread.”
Money raised will be shared with MORC and TrailSpring for bike-related projects in Springfield and surrounding areas.
Part of the money will be used to help establish the Dirt 66 project — a network of mountain biking trails around Fellows Lake that’s being done in conjunction with Ozark Greenways, TrailSpring, MORC and City Utilities.
Angle said some of the money also will be used to improve trails at Sac River Mountain Bike park northwest of Springfield.
He also hopes some of the money raised could be used as matching funds for a grant to rehabilitate existing trails and build new mountain bike trails at Busiek State Forest south of Springfield.
Because of space limitations underground, Angle said the event isn’t open to the general public. However, each participant will be allowed to bring up to four guests. They’ll park above ground and then walk down into the mine and competition area.
According to MORC, there will be six adult categories for each bike class for men and women:
• 17 and under
• 50 and above
There also will be a one-mile pedal bike race for kids and a 500-yard strider bike race. Kids participate free if a parent is participating in an adult category. There will be vendors on site and a raffle for those who participate.
Registration for the races will open on February 1, once a dedicated website for Round and Round Underground has been finished.
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