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Santa Fe seeks to add bicycle race to calendar of events

SANTA FE – The city of Santa Fe is looking into hosting a long-distance competitive bicycle race by sponsoring of what would be called the GFNY Santa Fe, a preliminary race for the Gran Fondo New York — a 100-mile road race that also serves as the race series’ championship.

On Monday, the city’s Public Works and Land Use Committee voted 4-0 to support a resolution that would pave the way for Tourism Santa Fe to enter into franchise agreement with Gran Fondo New York, which has staged its flagship race from New York City to Bear Mountain and back since 2010.

The Santa Fe race would be expected to lose money the first year but become financially self-sufficient by the third year through entry fees, retail sales and sponsorships, according to Tourism Santa Fe Executive Director Randy Randall.

The fiscal impact report shows expenses totalling $322,500 the first year, $262,000 of it for professional services. The three-day event, tentatively scheduled for a week prior to the Fourth of July weekend, is budgeted to generate $262,500 in entry fees and sponsorships. The difference amounts to a $60,000 investment by the city, according to the report, which indicates that amount would be recouped by additional revenue the city receives in the form of an estimated $29,000 in lodgers taxes and $34,600 in gross receipts taxes the first year.

Randall said the race is expected to draw about 750 cyclists the first year, nearly a third of them from out of the country.

City councilors who make up the committee had questions about the costs the city would absorb.

Ron Trujillo wanted to make sure the city saw a return on its investment. He mentioned the $50,000 the city spent to attract the TV reality series “The Bachelor” to Santa Fe in 2015.

“To this day, I haven’t seen any result from that,” he said.

Renee Villarreal questioned Randall about sponsorships and was told that the city would be responsible for securing about $50,000 in local sponsorships. That includes $15,000 earmarked from Santa Fe County. She also noted a $25,000 expense for traffic control by police officers, which led to questions about the race course route.

Randall said the proposed route of GFNY Santa Fe would start and finish at Fort Marcy Park, and take cyclists up to the ski area and along U.S. 285 toward Pojoaque.

“It’s the climb that makes this one more interesting,” he said, differentiating it from others held around the world.

There are about 15 other Gran Fondo New York preliminary races in France, Germany, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, but, aside from the one in New York, the Santa Fe race would be the first one affiliated with the held in the United States, Randall said.

The races may attract professional riders, but others participate to compete in categories based on age and gender, or just to challenge themselves against the clock.

City councilor Joseph Maestas, who heads the city’s Bicycle and Trails Advisory Committee, said that committee supports the idea of bringing the race to Santa Fe, and that organizers of the Santa Fe Century bike race didn’t consider it a conflict with their event.

But Maestas cautioned that the fledging Outside magazine’s Bike and Brews Festival, held in conjunction with the Santa Fe Century, was still trying to gain traction and that the city should make existing events the priority.

Randall said the idea for hosting a Gran Fondo New York preliminary race in Santa Fe came from Jake Rodar, a local businessman and avid cyclist.

Gran Fondo is a race format that originated in Italy in 1970 and are typically chip-timed races of 75 miles or more held whenever possible on closed courses away from vehicle traffic. Prizes are awarded to top placers each category, and in the tradition of Gran Fondos, a feast is held after the race.

Santa Fe already has at least two Gran Fondo events, one during the Santa Fe Century and another during the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Festival.

The proposal will next be heard by the Finance Committee on Monday. It is scheduled to come before the full City Council for consideration Nov. 8.

Trujillo said the item really should have come before the Public Safety Committee, since the proposal involved possible road closures and traffic control by police.

Councilor Chris Rivera, who chairs that committee, noted that it won’t meet before it is scheduled to come before the City Council.