The spokes began spinning Friday morning on the South Lawrence Trafficway as more than 400 cyclists began competing in the national collegiate championships.
Bicycle enthusiasts have looked forward to this weekend's event for months.
"We're really getting teams and up-and-coming professionals coming and seeing our little corner of the world," said Paul Davis, a manager at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, 802-804 Mass. "There is a big buzz for it."
Members of the KU Cycling Club are among those competing in the 2006 USA Cycling Collegiate Championships. The championships were in Lawrence a year ago, and local organizers hope the city will host them again next year.
With about 100 more participants than a year ago, organizers also expect more than last year's estimated $350,000 to be spent at local businesses, volunteer Doug Vance said.
The time trial Friday morning forced the Kansas Department of Transportation to close the trafficway from the Lecompton Interchange near Interstate 70 to the junction with U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence.
Beginning at 8 a.m. today, the racers will pedal around the 28-mile course at Perry Lake in Jefferson County. The start and finish line will be next to the Thompsonville recreation area.
Sunday's criterium race will feature figure-eight laps through downtown Lawrence. The race begins at 7 a.m. at the starting line at Ninth and Massachusetts streets; the 900 and 1000 blocks of New Hampshire Street will be closed for the race and other streets will be affected.
Davis said his staff would be too busy working around the shop to make it to today's race. But the store's location will come in handy on Sunday.
"The big event for spectators is going to be Sunday. We'll show up at 6 (a.m.), set up our tents on the sidewalk and get the bullhorn out," he said. "We deal with the collegiate team all year round, so we definitely have to root for the hometown guys and gals."
Shawn Teenor, an employee at Cycle Works, 2121 Kasold Drive, said the cyclists in town have helped business, and it also has helped give some attention to road cycling.
"It makes a big difference for people to be able to see road racing up close because it's an exciting event," he said. "It's something that people don't think about. It is not something that's covered in the media as much unless Lance Armstrong is racing. At the same time there is a college level, and there are people out there doing it."
Davis said several cyclists had spent time at the shop between races checking out equipment and buying supplies. Because competitors are in town for three days, the event helps other businesses as well, he said.
"They stick around and they spend their money, which is good," he said.