Thousands of bikers rolled into Chico Friday, for the 31st annual Wildflower Century Bike Ride. Carl & Judy Cooper, Cyclists from Eureka say, "It's a lot of fun. It's one of our favorite ones that we do every year." "For tourism it's phenomenal. We have people come from Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and all over the bay area," says Cycle Sport Owner Mike Peavy.
Riders come in from around the country, Canada, and some from as far away as Europe. And with a whopping 4,000 people already pre-registered for the event, this year is expected to be bigger than ever. Oxford Suites Sr. Sales Manager Katie Marskey says, "It's great for the city of Chico.. I know all the hotels typically sell out this weekend. I know it's great for restaurants and shopping, so it is great for the economy."
As the number of cyclists increases each year, so too does the amount of revenue poured into the local economy. "We have 184 rooms and we are completely sold out," says Marskey.
But it's not just hotels who are seeing a large economic gain. Local restaurants like Sierra Nevada are packed throughout the weekend. And downtown stores, especially bike shops, are also seeing a boom in business. "The day before the Wildflower is generally one of our busiest days of the year. It's really great. Most of the people are coming in from out of town, so it's out of town money and they spend it here," says Peavy.
The event not only boosts the economy, it also helps shed light on life in Chico. The Coopers say, "It's just a big event and there's a lot of things going on and it's a nice town." Chico cyclist Rick Carhart says, It's been going on for a long time.. Chico is a great cycling town. There's a lot of food, a lot of friends, a lot of fun!"
The bicycle races will take place on Sunday, and one route this year is 125 miles, in honor of Chico State's anniversary.