Hundreds of people will line the streets of several St. Louis neighborhoods this weekend to catch a glimpse of cyclists zipping along the roads at an average speed of 30 miles per hour.
Several racers from around the world are in the city for the Gateway Cup. It's a nationally recognized cycling event that is in its 36th year.
"It's exciting for us to say, 'Wow, we have national champions and Olympians and people who have raced in Europe targeting St. Louis and then coming here and having a great experience,'" said organizer Mike Weiss.
"I think we still have some growth potential for it," he said, while adding some of the challenges line up with key topics in the global cycling community.
"Athletes aren't being paid like other sports. There's always a little bit of a gender inequity," said Weiss, who owns St. Louis-based Big Shark Bicycle Co.
The Gateway Cup begins Friday night under the lights in the Lafayette Square neighborhood. It continues through Labor Day weekend with races in Francis Park, the Hill and Benton Park. The neighborhood experiences help separate the event from other professional sports contests.
"You're able to move around; you are not tied to one location. The food that is being served is local," Weiss said.
That would suggest a boost for neighborhood businesses, but Weiss says a wide-ranging economic development study focusing on the Gateway Cup has not been carried out, but some significant money is involved.
Weiss said the revenue that passes through approaches $250,000.
"If that's what we're spending, there's a huge multiplier with the thousands of people who are here for that event over four days," he said.
In its three and a half decades, the St. Louis stop has been built into a notable event among cyclists all over the world. That includes Dennis Ramirez, who grew up in Colombia.
"I didn't really have this on my calendar," he said, "but I just had to come back."
Ramirez has been with a St. Louis-based cycling team for the past six years, and it's his sixth time in the race.
"I can’t believe sometimes when I’m racing and I’m hearing more people cheer me on than any other local," Ramirez said.
“I love the race, I love the people around it,” he added.
This year’s edition of the Gateway Cup includes the Tour de Lafayette on Friday, Tour de Francis Park on Saturday, Giro Della Montagna in the Hill on Sunday and will wrap up with the Benton Park Classic on Labor Day.
Follow Wayne on Twitter: @WayneRadio
Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org