By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO COUNTY – The Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race takes place this weekend, with around 350 racing bicyclists expected to descend upon Palo Pinto County.
On Saturday, the race happens in Mineral Wells with a Criterium around the Baker Hotel. Part of the race will travel along East Hubbard Street, also known as U.S. Highway 180 East. The two northernmost lanes of East Hubbard, from N.E. 6th Avenue to N.E. 1st Avenue, will be blocked off from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“[The criterium] is fun to come and watch, because there's lots of action. It's like NASCAR on two wheels,” said Race Organizer Andy Hollinger.
Also on Saturday, cyclists will ride a time trial, beginning at the intersection of State Highway 337 and U.S. 180 West. Cyclists will head north on SH 337, traveling one at a time, for about 7 miles, then return to the start.
Drivers are advised to take caution when traveling these routes.
“Riders should be on or near the shoulder; please give them extra space when passing,” Hollinger said.
There are a total of three stages to the Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race, which is sponsored by Team Bicycles Inc. and the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce. The race is named after the late Palo Pinto County employee and avid cyclist and racer Iris Stagner.
Stagner was just a few miles into a training ride on Sept. 17, 2013, when she was hit from behind by the driver of a pickup truck while crossing the Brazos River bridge on U.S. Highway 180, just west of Mineral Wells.
“She was instrumental in bringing racing to Palo Pinto County and was on the board of Bike Texas with me,” said Hollinger. “She was a wonderful person as a cyclist and person. We miss her tremendously. This race was named in her honor.”