SAFFORD — The Mount Graham Hill Climb got the green flag to conduct the cycling race in 2021.
The Graham County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the race for Sunday, Sept. 26, starting at 8 a.m. and finishing by noon. The awards ceremony will take place later that afternoon in the Graham County General Services Building.
“What a great event,” said Supervisor Paul David, D-Dist. 1. “I know that there are overnight stays; groceries; people who, once they’re in the area, that they’ll come the day before, sometimes even to train. It brings people to our area, it’s great for tourism, it puts us on the map and everything about this I like.”
Race Director Edward “Nippy” Feldhake III said last year’s race saw 118 participants and deviated from the traditional format of cycling as a group to individual time trials, due to COVID-19 distancing requirements. This year there are three plans, based on the status of the pandemic at race time:
● Plan A is to run a traditional race with a group start
● Plan B is to release racers in groups of no more than 10
● Plan C is for racers to start individually in 30 second intervals and conduct the race as a time trial
The race starts on State Route 366, across from the parking lot of Federal Corrections Institution-Safford, and runs west up Mount Graham on Swift Trail before ending near Snow Flat Campground, a change in elevation of 5,689 feet. There are 20- and 10-mile races, with multiple categories based on age and gender.
The 2021 Mount Graham Hill Climb also serves as the Arizona State Hill Climb championship.
Registration for the race is at 42nd Mt. Graham Hill Climb, Arizona State Championship Hill Climb Online Registration (bikereg.com).