SANTA FE, N.M., April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Next week, Silver City, New Mexico, gears up to celebrate the Silver Anniversary of the SRAM Tour of the Gila. Now in its 25th year, the cycling stage race, which began in 1987, is staking its claim as the nation's most historic, thanks to the dramatic backdrop on which the race itself is set.
Running April 27-May 1, 2011, riders in the SRAM Tour of the Gila center their remarkable adventure in Silver City, New Mexico, near the birthplace of famous Apache warrior Geronimo and the childhood home of the notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid.
The race course itself offers contenders and spectators a glimpse of ancient Native American culture: the 700+ year-old ruins of the Mogollon people at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. No other race in America can lay claim to such ancient and notorious history.
Add to that a taste of adventure - Stage 5, known as the "Gila Monster," is the most challenging final stage in US racing, encompassing 105.7 miles of cycling and 9,131 feet of climbing - and you have the makings of an American legend.
While perhaps best known as the race that "brought Lance back," in 2009, the SRAM Tour of the Gila is considered a testing ground for America's emerging professional racers. Ranked a 2.1 level event on the 2011 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC), cyclers have increased their professional rankings and been recruited by America's leading cycling sponsors in recent years.
"Only New Mexico could offer such a uniquely challenging cycling course through treacherous mountains and valleys past the ancient Gila Cliff Dwellings wrapping up at an old west 1800 era saloon," noted Monique Jacobson, New Mexico Tourism Department Cabinet Secretary. "This is truly a race through time and place in a backdrop that encompasses everything wonderful about New Mexico."
For those who backslid on new year's resolution to exercise more, the race also offers spectacular viewing areas of both cyclers and New Mexico's dramatic landscapes. Thanks to the Celebration of Spring Expo, which will feature live music, a beer garden and extensive children's activities, the Silver celebration can be made fun for the entire family.
SOURCE New Mexico Tourism Department