Albert J. Marro / Staff file Photo
Men’s category 4 riders turn off Route 4 in Bridgewater Corners onto Route 100B during last year’s Killington Stage Race.
KILLINGTON — Racers and riders will be back in the saddle again for the Killington Stage Race this Memorial Day Weekend.
The event, back for a fourth year after a 10-year hiatus, will include more than 500 cyclists and is expected to draw upwards of 800 spectators to what is otherwise a relatively quiet time, tourist-wise, for the area.
“It’s certainly a big boost to the local economy and is a great way to kick off the summer,” said Amy Morrison, events and marketing coordinator for the town of Killington.
In fact, one could make the argument that Killington is skipping spring altogether and is transitioning from winter to summer. While racers wind their way through the hills of Killington, Bridgewater and Plymouth, skiers and boarders will be riding the last swatches of snow at Killington Resort, which closes Sunday.
Race Director Gary Kessler said the three-day event will offer lots of excitement for spectators along the route.
“It’s rare you get to see such large groups of racers,” Kessler said. “Just to hear them all passing by is a pretty powerful thing.”
Saturday will be the day for the circuit race, in which racers ride timed laps. The event begins at the Skyship base area on Route 4 and ends at the Sunrise base area on Route 100.
Morrison suggested race spectators post up at the President Calvin Coolidge Historic Site on Route 100A in Plymouth Notch. For some real excitement, Kessler suggested viewing this event from the Salt Ash Inn, at the intersections of Route 100 and Route 100A.
“It’s pretty exciting to watch people come down the hill at 50 mph and try to make that tight right turn,” Kessler said.
On Sunday, spectators can enjoy a burger and a beer at Long Trail Brewing Company on Route 4 in Bridgewater, the starting line for the time trials, an 11-mile sprint that concludes at the Killington Town Office on River Road.
Riders will be hoping for dry road conditions Monday for the road race, which culminates with a punishing 5-mile pedal up East Mountain Road to finish at the K1 Lodge.
“That finish makes this one of the most challenging races in New England,” Morrison said.
Kessler agreed with Morrison as he pointed to that final climb.
“You’ll get to see some real suffering, especially the second day,” Kessler said. “Some of these guys will have been riding 76 miles and then they have to finish up East Mountain Road.”
Kessler urged drivers to be cautious and patient if they encounter packs of cyclists this weekend.
“I hope people will be courteous and safe,” Kessler said. “There are going to be a lot of riders, and they will have police and other support vehicles with them, but I ask drivers to be aware.”
In short, share the road.
For more information about the event, visit www .killingtonstagerace.com.
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