The sun was warm, the mud was just perfect, and the trails were full of competitive mountain bikers from California, Washington and Oregon, all helping to ensure that low income family children have access to youth sports programs in Newport.
It was the reincarnation of a mountain bike race, and today a fundraiser, launched years ago by Ben Eder who was lost at sea on a fishing boat. Today Ben was honored by the newly reconstituted Coast Hills Classic organization made up of the City of Newport Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with Bike Newport and the Newport News-Times along with many others.
The course wound throughout 11 miles of mountain and heavy forested terrain from Oregon Coast Community College, south to the Newport Airport and back. The professional riders did a lap in just over an hour. Some non-professionals took more than twice as long. But they all had fun. Even the two riders who collided near the end of the course, one ending up with a destroyed front wheel that’ll set him back a few hundred bucks.
Ben Eder’s mother, Michele Eder, received an artistic work in the family’s honor depicting the re-creation of the Coast Hills Classic. Eder told News Lincoln County that her son Ben started it back in 1997 when he and best friend Dave Campbell who were students at Newport High School. They created a mountain bike club and established the first course in the South Beach area. This weekend’s event was made possible through the generous involvement of land owner Will Emery as well as Warren and Rita Jordan. Michele said the rebirth of the Coast Hills Classic honors her son’s memory, and will become a magnet for young people wanting to master the skills of mountain bike racing and to compete effectively in such events throughout their lives. She called today’s event “simply fantastic.” She said her son was “up there looking down, smiling at what was happening in his name and memory.”
Bike Newport owners Daniella and Elliott Crowder helped sponsor the Coast Hills Classic, getting on the phone to over 100 bike shops in Oregon, bombarding regional bicycling Facebook networks and other social media to make sure that everyone who loves competitive mountain biking, knew the event was coming up and to invite them over to the coast. Daniella told News Lincoln County that ticket sales, contributions from the News-Times and generous support from Exergy Development Group and Team Exergy cycling team made the prize money extraordinarily attractive, especially for an inaugural event.
Proceeds from the Coast Hills Classic will go exclusively for City of Newport scholarships for Newport youth whose families cannot afford to enroll their children in the extensive youth recreation programs at the city recreation center. City Recreation coordinator Liam Hughes, who donated endless hours to the Classic, said cost should never deny a young child the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of healthy recreation whether it’s basketball, track, indoor soccer or any other sport.
Hughes said the turn out for this year’s Classic exceeded his expectations by quite a lot. He said entrants were very pleased with the quality and variety of challenges of the course as well as the prize money. He said they were surprised at the size of the purse, especially for an event that hadn’t been run in many years.
Hughes said the top winners among the 150 entrants were, in the Men’s Category, 1st place Roth Brody of Lake Oswego, 2nd place James Ceccorulli of Portland, and 3rd place went to Shawn Rader of Hillsboro. Among the Women’s Category, Sue Butler took 1st place, Karen DeWolfe of Corvallis was 2nd, and Megan Chinburg from Portland placed 3rd overall.
Hughes and other Classic organizers said that the event helped to fill a lot of hotel and motel rooms over the weekend, including many restaurants and watering holes. They estimated the total inflow of visitors to Newport from 500 to 1,000 out-of-towners.
Hughes and Bike Newport’s Elliott and Daniella Crowder say there will definitely be another Coast Hills Classic next year although they’re going to have to wait to find out what the date will be. All sanctioned mountain bike racing events are scheduled by the Oregon Racing Bike Association which coordinates all forms of bicycle competition throughout Oregon.