Chad Hodges

Andy Chasteen has traveled far and wide seeking the highest levels of cycling competition.

The Oklahoma City resident needs look no further.

The first Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic is coming to Automobile Alley on Saturday. With a $20,000-plus payout and a full slate of races scheduled for pros and amateurs, the event is expected to attract some of the nation’s elite cyclists while giving local fans an up-close look at the sport.

“It’s widely accepted that you go down to Texas to race against the ‘good guys,’” said Chasteen, who works as a photographer and as vice president at James Farris Associates, a local human resources consulting firm. “When you go
to one of those big races in Texas or Tulsa, you say, ‘This is
super-exciting. I wish we could have something like that in Oklahoma
City.’ And now it’s coming to fruition.”

Helping the community

Hodges envisioned an OKC event that rivaled Tulsa Tough, a three-day
festival listed on USA Cycling’s prestigious National Racing Calendar.

team director for DNA Racing, the local cycling team hosting the OKC
Pro-Am, Hodges said he pitched the race in 2011 to its eventual sponsor,
SandRidge Energy.

“Both of us expressed an interest of doing something positive for the community,” he said. “It’s just kind of grown from there.”

Alley’s business community has stepped up to support the race, and a
variety of vendors will have plenty of food and beverage available
during the event, Hodges said, who chose to showcase the district as a vibrant example of the city’s urban development.

organizers have partnered with Norman Pediatric Associates and Safe
Kids Oklahoma to promote cycling safety by giving away helmets to the
first 200 children who stop by the Safe Kids booth.

All Pro-Am proceeds will benefit White Fields, a safe, long-term home for severely abused and neglected boys.

Racing action

With more than 600 cyclists expected to participate, the Pro-Am Classic is designed to become an annual event.

or shine, the event will feature 11 criterium races in men’s, women’s,
juniors’, masters’ and children’s divisions. The first race begins at 11
a.m., while the men’s race will be held under the lights of downtown at
8:55 p.m.

races are short-track, nonstop sprints featuring tight cornering and
lots of grueling acceleration. “It’s really redline, from the time they
say ‘go,’” Hodges said.

start/finish line will be at 900 N. Broadway, and the .8-mile course
will traverse a figure eight between N. Broadway and N. Harvey avenues
and between N.W. Seventh and N.W. 10th streets.

unique feature of the women’s pro race, set for 7:45 p.m., will be the
crowd prime, a cash prize offered for the winner of a single lap.

don’t know when the prime will be announced, but typically, it’s toward
the end of the contest to give organizers time to work the crowd for
donations, Hodges said.

The women’s crowd prime is already above $750, thanks to donations through the event website.

Hodges’ goal is to beat the $850 offered at last year’s Tulsa Tough.

first week in June figures to be a boon for cycling enthusiasts. On
Sunday, DNA Racing hosts the King of Moore Criterium, while Tulsa Tough
will be held June 8-10.

One cyclist’s journey

took up cycling in 2008 when he went for a weekend ride with a group of
Edmond cyclists. He won his first competitive race a few weeks later, a
45-mile event during the Oklahoma State Championship at Lake Stanley

“I was hooked from then on,” he said.

has advanced to become a Category 2 racer, as determined by USA
Cycling, the sport’s governing body. Category 1 is the highest level,
immediately below professionals.

While he specializes in time trials, he’s excited to compete in the Pro-Am’s criterium format.

spectator-friendly aspect of criteriums is awesome,” Chasteen said,
“With the [cycling] community we have here, I do think there will be a
really good turnout of people wanting to see the action.”

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