Lance Armstrong in town for Carson City Off-Road | NevadaAppeal.com
Teri Vance

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Lance Armstrong in town for Carson City Off-Road

You know you've got an awesome bike race when Lance Armstrong shows up to ride in it. The legendary cyclist posted a picture of himself to his Instagram account Thursday evening from the Ash to Kings Canyon Trail overlooking Carson City.

Despite the controversy surrounding him, Armstrong is still arguably the biggest name in cycling, and it's blowing my mind he's here riding the same trails we do.

He was scoping out the trail in preparation for this weekend's Carson City Off-Road mountain bike race, which is expected to bring slightly more than 900 racers to town. Along with the riders, officials are expecting about 4,000 visitors to the capital city. Later Thursday night, Armstrong had dinner at Cafe at Adeles.

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While the course had to be modified somewhat this year — removing the portions that overlook Lake Tahoe — because of heavy snowfall last winter, I'm confident riders will still be impressed with the trail quality and scenery they find along the way.

I'm hopeful they will also find our community to be warm and welcoming, willing to help them navigate our fine city.

The weekend will also bring an economic boon to the area. Joel Dunn, executive director of the Carson City Visitors Bureau, said he's expecting a significant revenue stream.

"With last year's race coming in at a $1.7 million economic impact with 600 riders, we anticipate this year will exceed $2 million," he said.

Over the five-year contract, it's estimated the race will bring $14.5 million new dollars into our economy.

That alone is a great dividend. But the Carson City Off-Road, one of three mountain bike races across the country put on by Epic Rides, is paying off in other ways as well.

After last year's inaugural event, it was named the best mountain bike race in the nation by editors of industry magazine Velo News.

That's the kind of recognition you can't buy, you just have to earn it. And we did.

Not only that, Epic Rides has returned several thousands of dollars to the community, donating to Muscle Powered for the maintenance of existing trails and development of future ones.

That brings me to the small lecture section of this column. You might have seen a letter to the editor this week from Randy Gaa, secretary for Muscle Powered.

He pointed out a common mistake many of us are making when we refer to the race as Epic Rides rather than the Carson City Off-Road. Epic is the company that puts on the Carson City Off-Road, so while it may not be an egregious error, it's a distinction worth making.

As Randy put it, "I love Carson City and I'm very proud of my community. A lot of hard-working volunteers have given countless hours of their personal time to build miles of trails in the area, and it's these amazing trails that have attracted the event to our community. Every time I see an article in the newspaper erroneously refer to the event as Epic Rides, I feel like my community just got robbed of something special."

He's right. We have a really great event, and we need to own it. That means calling it by its proper name.

But, for now, let's celebrate it. There's music and bikes and beers all over downtown — and you may even catch a glimpse of Lance Armstrong.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.

For more on the Carson City Off-Road, go here