Another big week of cycling kicked off Wednesday in Central Oregon, as the first stage of the USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships took place in Prineville.
In the event's second straight year in Central Oregon, competition kicked off with the individual and tandem time trials.
Close to 1,000 racers between the ages of 35 and 80 from across the country will be in the area through the weekend, along with about 2,000 spectators, event staff, and other visitors.
"This event is a big deal for Bend," said Doug LaPlaca, CEO of Visit Bend. "The average stay is seven days, and the demographic of a visitor is very attractive from a tourism standpoint."
"They like to spend money and they love our community," said LaPlaca. "It's a great way for us as a tourism destination to introduce Bend to an entirely new group of customers."
With the race being the largest event held in September,, Visit Bend officials say the economic impact will be over $1 million in direct tourism spending.
"It's gorgeous -- I absolutely love it. It would be easy to live here, that's for sure," said Ken Rodgers, a competitor from Florida.
"The roads out here are beautiful, compared to what we have in flat Texas, Gulf Coast, with the heat and humidity," said David Lawrence, a visitor from Texas.
"Bend is a great little town -- we'd love to retire in Bend," said Jeff Clawsen from Salt Lake City.
It's also an event that's fun for locals to host as well.
"I like to ride any way so if I can help people race, its fun for me," said Dirk Hall of Bend.
"To host 1,000 racers from across the country at this level is really exciting," said LaPlaca. "It's a great way for us to showcase our community, and to meet a bunch of new folks from across the country."
The events continue Thursday with the road race portion of the competition at 8 am. Racers will ride an 84K course, starting and finishing at Mt. Bachelor.