The Tour of Walla Walla celebrates its 15th year in 2011.

On the road again



Anxious for the race to begin, cyclists line Main Street in 2010 for the start of a downtown criterium.


Dwarfed by the vast, rolling, green countryside, two racers from the 2010 Tour of Walla Walla speed down an open road at the foothills of the Blue Mountains.


Enthusiastic fans cheer on the racers.


High speeds and scuffed knees for legs and wheels.


A patron at a downtown coffee shop pauses from her book to take in speeding racers, reflected from a window.


The lines between man and machine fuse in the silhouette of a racer.

It's tour time again in Walla Walla.

The Tour of Walla Walla runs Thursday-April 17, both downtown and on country roads, bringing with it about 500 riders, some of them national champions, from across the continent.

This is the 15th annual cycling race, said event organizer Steve Rapp.

Although the 500 cyclists is down from the all-time high of more than 600 in 2010, the number rolling into town still exceeds 2009's mark.

"Last year's event went extremely well," Rapp said. "We had some pretty decent weather and there was some really good racing going on."

Cycling fans and laypeople alike can enjoy watching the race with Olympic cyclist John Beckman announcing in downtown on Saturday, he said.

"Beckman knows racing really well, and he's very good at the microphone," Rapp said.

Although the race will have a few changes, like changing the date of the county roads portion, Rapp says it won't have a great influence. "We hope that the average spectator notices more aggression and animated racing," he said.

The downtown portion, called the criterium, is on Saturday. The earliest group of women begins at 7 a.m., while the latest group starts at 10:30 a.m.


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