THE Griffith Cycle Club has begun spreading the gospel of Griffith to all corners of the state in preparation for September's NSW Masters Road Championships, one of the biggest events on the city's sporting calendar this year.
Organisers are confident the nearly 400 visiting riders who are expected to flock to Griffith for the championships will thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the three-day event - but the hard part is getting them here in the first place.
There are an estimated 4000 masters licensed cyclists in the state but only about 10 per cent of those attended the 2012 and 2013 championships in Goulburn, and Griffith is encountering the same challenges in attracting participants from metropolitan areas.
That's why the local club is getting out and about to masters events, canvassing opinion and making outsiders aware of what awaits them later this year.
"Once they are here, it's all right - they all want to come back," Griffith Cycle Club president Jason Minato said.
"People have obviously heard of Griffith for the wrong reasons but once people come here and see the wineries, they always want to come back."
Race director Peter Budd said organisers are playing up Griffith's Italian heritage, hoping to use food and wine as an additional lure for the championships, which he said can be sometimes seen as an elitist event among cyclists.
"What we want to do is increase the number of riders that come simply to have a good time," he said.
"It's not just about the top of the tree - it's about getting together with other riders, because it's really good socially.
"That's why so many people are taking up cycling, because you can do all that while you're getting fit.
"We want it to be friendly and fun, not just about the medals."
The Griffith Cycle Club has already locked in major sponsors for the event with Casella Wines, through their label Yellowtail, and Visy coming on board as platinum-level supporters, while Irribiz has been signed as a gold sponsor.
Griffith City Council will provide significant logistical support for the championships, easing the burden by taking care of traffic management.
The NSW Masters Road Championships will begin with a road race on Saturday, September 27, a criterium on the Sunday and individual time trials on the following Monday.
The road race and the time trials will take place on Scenic Hill while Benerembah Street will be closed off and used for the criterium, with organisers keen to capitalise on Walter Burley Griffin's unique design for the criterium.
But the latter race will come with a twist for local riders, Minato said.
"We're a bit concerned about the roundabout at Rossies - if you go the right way around with a bunch of riders in a criterium, it's skinny on the exit," he said.
"The entry's all right but the exit is tight and we may have to go the opposite way (anti-clockwise).
"There's nothing wrong with that - but as someone who's worked pretty much for the last 15 years on Benerembah Street and gone the right way around it all my life, it's going to take a bit of adjustment," he said.