TERRE HAUTE —
While the weather forecast calls for hot and dry conditions, RAIN will be pouring plenty of people and business into Terre Haute this weekend.
At least 1,500 bicyclists are expected to participate in Saturday’s 160-mile Ride Across Indiana, which starts at 7 a.m. at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and ends in Richmond.
The annual event, now in its 26th year, is sponsored by the Bloomington Bicycle Club.
Most bicyclists are expected to arrive later today. Terre Haute hotels are booked tonight, and the visitors are likely to frequent local restaurants, gas stations, the mall and other retail stores, said Dave Patterson, executive director of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau.
RAIN ride participants will spend money in the community, but they don’t require a lot of support services, he said.
About 300 of the bicyclists will lodge at LeFer Hall at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, and about 20 others will camp on the college grounds. The college sold out of dorm rooms, said Julie White, coordinator of special events at the college.
This is the second year the race has started from SMWC, which serves as the headquarters.
Among the hotels sold out tonight are the Holiday Inn and Drury Inn, and many of the guests are for RAIN. “We’ve been sold out for months,” said Michelle Payton, Drury Inn guest services agent.
Bill Burdine, Holiday Inn general manager, said the hotel books up every year for the RAIN ride, although many of the patrons also are people on summer vacation.
RAIN brings not only the bicyclists, but often support teams who follow the riders and pick them up at the ride’s conclusion, Burdine said.
The event is a boost to the local economy, he said. “It makes a major difference here.”
Fat Bikes at 1119 Wabash Ave. sees an upswing in business in the weeks leading up to the RAIN ride as local participants tune up their bikes and make repairs, said Cody Rothrock, a Fat Bikes employee.
He anticipates some last minute business today as well.
Olive Garden also is prepared for additional diners who may want to “carb up” tonight in preparation for the long ride Saturday, said Billy Payne, sales manager.
Riders will primarily follow U.S. 40, with some detours near Indianapolis. There will be five rest stations, located about every 30 miles, where riders can get water and snacks.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.