Tour de Nez: The big bicycle bash |

Tour de Nez: The big bicycle bash

Greyson Howard
Nevada Appeal News Service

TRUCKEE – Get your cow bells ready, as the summer’s biggest bicycle bash – the 17th annual Tour de Nez – cruises into Truckee Thursday and Northstar Saturday.

The multi-day bike race pits top cyclists against one another on courses through downtown Truckee, Reno and Northstar, and also includes other festivities and fun for spectators.

This year will also feature the Hand Cycling Criterium Championship, a form of cycling available for those with disabilities peddled with the arms rather than the legs.

The Sierra Sun, a sister paper to the Nevada Appeal, caught up with Tim Healion, founder and director of the Tour de Nez, to find out what’s in store for this year’s Tour de Nez.

Question: Hey Tim, so what’s the story with this year’s Tour de Nez?

Tim Healion: We’re tightening up the events this year to bring a closer focus on the spectator events and what makes them good.

For example, we’ve revamped our presence in the Village at Northstar to create a more festive atmosphere.

The race that goes through the village is the focus of our events up there. The start and finish is right in the village, the kids races, the clunkers are all down in the village.

The Green Park expo is in the rink in the village. It’s just going to be great up there and highlight what’s cool: the village. And then we are moving all the Reno events back to downtown Reno and everyone is psyched about that.

Question: It looks like for every men’s race there is a women’s race this year, along with some junior’s and master’s events, what can we expect from that?

Tim Healion: Yes, we’ve ramped up the racing this year to include multi-day events for the women and the master’s in addition to the pros. Last year’s first-ever women’s race for the Tour de Nez was a blast and really well received by the women’s fields.

The master’s have been asking for the multi-day format for years so they get it this year. Should be really cool and all culminating up at Northstar on the final day.

Question: You’ve also got the hand cycling championship this year, and have had hand cycling races in the past. Why is hand cycling important to the Tour de Nez?

Tim Healion: We’ve done the hand cycle discipline in the past and it’s been really cool.

We had a conflict last year with their National Championships so didn’t have that part of the event, but this year we decided to do it anyway and got awarded the National Criterium Championships for the U.S. Handcycling Federation. It’s a big deal.

We are running the hand cycles as a three-day omnium but with that, the Reno race is the National Championship race.

It’s important to integrate adaptive sports into mainstream sports to dispel the thought that they are different. It’s athletics all the same.

Question: So tell us what the clunker and messenger races are – can we make the messengers deliver the newspaper?

Tim Healion: The clunkers are the goofy bikes of all shapes, sizes and weights. They are fun and will be doing a lap at all three of the venues.

It’s free and very popular with the locals. The messengers can take anything anywhere and want to. Due to time constraints on the various courses, we can only have that race as a one-day in Reno.

It is crazy as those guys are all over the place.

Question: Who are the big teams and big names coming to the Tour de Nez this year, and who should we be betting on? Anybody you’re excited to see?

Tim Healion: I’m excited to see the return of past champions of the Tour de Nez. Last year’s overall winner Aaron Olson is coming back with his new colors: Oakley/Sidi.

Roman Killun of Ouch who won last year’s Truckee and Northstar Village stages is coming back with teammates, possibly including Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Floyd Landis.

Justin England, who is a previous Tour De Nez stage winner, is coming back with the California Giant Strawberry/Specialized team; I like him.

The master’s field will be strong with local rider Gregg Betonte claiming he’ll win the whole thing. He’ll have to beat retired pro and former Tour De Nez pro stage winner Mike Sayers.

The women’s fields will be really exciting with teams from Proman, Vanderkitten, Vello Bella, Tibco, Sugar CRM and Metromint sending strong squads. Former Reno resident Amber Rais will be leading the Tibco team.

As far as the handcyclists go, many-time national and world champion Alajandro Albor is my favorite to win the whole thing.

Question: How do the three days of racing work together, and how does somebody win overall?

Tim Healion: The races are scored on points and the rider with the most points at the end of the three races wins.

Question: How will the stages in Truckee and Northstar compare for spectators and racers?

Tim Healion: The Truckee race is off the hook for spectators. The whole town shows up in addition to folks coming up from the Bay Area, central California and Reno. It gets crowded.

Northstar with all the changes putting the focus in the village will be really great for spectators and there should be a ton of people up there. The Northstar competition is a must see as it is the final day and the overall winner gets crowned after that race. That stage is really cool as it goes right through the village and then climbs up above. It is grueling and is right at a 2-mile loop.

Question: What do people who don’t shave their legs and wear spandex need to know to come watch the races? What other activities are available?

Tim Healion: Tons of fun at all venues. We’ll be doing the Tour De Nez party at all stops, kids races, music, movies, food, a green park expo, New Belgium beer, nice days outside. Great times on the river in Reno and up on the mountain at Northstar.

Fun stuff all around.