I recently returned from the Tour of the Gila, in Silver City NM. I was not the Chief Ref this time (after 12 years we had to let somebody else do it). I love this event - it is a true feel-good event, where the riders are treated well.
I saw some riders from our area, but I urge people who want the real stage racing experience to consider doing this event next year. There are separate 5-day stage races for cat.3, cat.2 and masters, in addition to the NRC events. Women 3/4 and men 4/5 have 4 days (2 RR, one crit and one TT). Unlike most NRC events, the other classes are treated with respect - that's one of the real themes of the race.
Now for the downside. Silver City is not the easiest place to get to. It is a hard event. Base elevation is 6000 feet, and humidity is fairly low. It is not a pure climbing event, but if you and gravity are deathly foes, this race is probably not for you. The way to really do it is to get a small group together, so that you have a support person to help you out with feeding.
It is not a local race, but my post is really to awaken local racers to the possiblity of doing the event.
How about an amen from some of the riders who did it (Ron?).