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Cycling Otago is set to ride its recent boom into its next event tomorrow.
The sport has experienced a 40% increase in riders at its races this year.
That trend is expected to continue at tomorrow’s Dean Cooksley Memorial Handicap race.
The race is a 56km road race beginning in Green Island, progressing to Taieri Mouth and finishing just outside Waldronville.
Cycling Otago road race convener Grant Campbell said it was hard to know how many entries there would be when they closed today.
However, he expected them to be around the 50-60 mark, as they have been for the other events this season.
He said it had been pleasing to see the increase in numbers, which were coming from a range of demographics.
‘‘I think it’s been a real cross-section, really,’’ he said.
‘‘I think probably just a lot of riders who maybe through Covid, or maybe through just life in general, have got back into it.
‘‘Maybe they’ve taken a break for a couple of years. There’s a lot of familiar names coming back into racing.
‘‘Maybe Covid’s got a bit to answer for that.
‘‘I don’t know.
‘‘It’s hard to tell.’’
Alongside the major races, the Monday night series — which runs the 10 weeks before and 10 weeks after Christmas around the wharf area — was attracting consistently good numbers.
Campbell said the organisation had made plenty of changes over the past 15 months, which had helped boost the numbers.
It was increasing its communication on social media to boost visibility.
There had also been a focus on increasing safety, providing quality prizes and making racing affordable.
He added that the buzz the Olympics created had likely helped as well.
Tomorrow’s race begins at 10am and honours the late Dean Cooksley.
Described as an ‘‘outstanding person and terrific rider,’’ he died from an undiagnosed heart condition aged 29.
The race has been held since the mid-1990s and has been won by former Olympian Greg Henderson.
It will be one of the last events on the Otago cycling calendar prior to Christmas.
The Thomson Memorial Handicap will follow on December 11.
An evening Christmas Criterium Showcase around the wharf streets on December 16 will conclude the year, providing an opportunity for spectators to watch some of Otago’s top cyclists.