On Saturday, the annual Pole Pedal Paddle will clock through town—and competitors will measure themselves by speed and time.
But what about the economic impact?
Neither Visit Bend nor the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, the event's promoter, has ever done a PPP economic impact study, but the Source did!
Get out your calculators, friends: We start with the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club, which in March hosted its own annual Pole Pedal Paddle. They have number-crunched the economic impact there—and the numbers are staggering.
Though Jackson's PPP is one-tenth of Bend's (330 participants versus 3,100) Julie Klomparens, the Ski & Snowboard Club's bookkeeper, called the local impact "incredible."
They figured each out-of-town participant (of which there were 109) spent an average $75 per day, not including lodging. That's over $8,000 daily. Add in lodging at $100 per night for two nights; that's another $20,000. Apply those numbers to Bend's totals (MBSEF figures roughly half of PPP participants are from out of town), and it calculates to roughly a quarter-million dollars spent on food, beer, gas and incidentals. Plus, oh, another $600,000 in lodging.
"That's awesome," MBSEF Events Director Molly Cogswell-Kelley enthused over the phone as we did the math together. "And so many of these people bring their families," she reminded. (We didn't factor for that.) This year, MBSEF plans to survey participants to figure out who spends how much on what.
Harder to pin down is the lasting effect PPP has on participants. Does the race bring people back for vacations or even hook them to live here after experiencing Bend for the first time? Cogswell-Kelley thinks so.
And Carolyn Daubeny knows so. Because she did just that. In 2008, Daubeny moved to Bend after falling in love with the area following her first visit in 1997 when she raced the PPP with a female pairs team. This year the 48-year-old is racing in the elite solo category.
More immediately, the financial boost is real and it's felt at bike and ski shops, burrito joints and grocery stores across town.
At Webcyclery, a bike shop that also specializes in Nordic skis, ski wax master Bert Hinkley has been slammed. Tall and lean with matching grey hair and beard, Hinkley has been waxing PPP skis Monday through Thursday for weeks. At Webcyclery, a regular ski wax costs $15 and a race wax is $30. Those numbers add up quickly.
"Is it a huge impact? It keeps me busy; it keeps people coming in the shop," Hinkley said with a smile. "There are definitely some serious competitors in the Pole Pedal Paddle. There are people coming here who spend months training for this thing. Then you also have the end where people are wearing the pink tutus and sumo wrestler suits and riding tandems with flowers on their helmets."
The broad spectrum of competitors makes it hard to gauge exactly who spends how much and on what, but one things seems clear—PPP is a moneymaker.
Bend Bicycle Film Fest Wheels Back
The fifth annual Bend Bicycle Film Fest kicks off Wednesday, May 22, at the Tower Theatre and this year Director Bill Warburton says he is particularly impressed with the quality of films. (Warburton said that he receives between 25 and 50 submissions each year from local and regional filmmakers/bikers.)
"So far the coolest one is a freeride film I got from this guy in Washington," Warburton offered. "It's got some cool graphics with it charting speed and velocity—it's fun."
Films range from GoPro footage, to mockumentaries, comedies, stop-action films and cyclocross race footage.
"It's gonna be fun," Warburton added.
Bend Bicycle Film Fest
7 pm Wednesday, May 22
Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St.