Aug 17

Downtown Speedfest Criterium

by Leah Wong · 2 comments

On August 21, the Speed Theory Race time is hosting Calgary’s first ever downtown criterium.  The first group starts at 4:30 pm, and the final one starts at 8:10pm.  The event is part of the Jason Lapierre Memorial Cycle Weekend.  For a detailed schedule check the SpeedTheory Blog.

A criterium, or crit, is a road cycling race in a short course – usually under five kilometers – completed at high speeds.  During the downtown crit, a large group of cyclists will race around a two-block circuit – 820 meters – for 35-50 minutes, before completing three more laps.  It will happen around the Shaw building, signs will be on located at 6th Street and 3rd Avenue SW.

As the event is trying to encourage families to come and watch the crit, they are also hosting a fun kids race before the first category begins.  Children will race around the course once, while a DJ will play music to keep them pumped.  Trev Williams, the president of SpeedTheory Cycling says the Banff criterium had about 50 participants in the kids race, and they would like to see similar numbers for the downtown crit.

Williams says organizers hope  around 200 riders will participate in the event, with 30-40 participants in each category.  Categories rank cyclists ability, Cat5 is the lowest, where all cyclists start.  As their experience and fitness capability increases, they have the opportunity to move up, though Williams says some stay in Cat5 forever.  Cat 1 and 2 are the fastest races – Williams says they are exciting for spectators as they can feel the wind generated by racers as they go by.

Speeds of riders range anywhere from 35-45 km/hour in the lower categories, to 45-50 km/hr for those in Cat 1 and 2.  In the last lap of the crit, Williams says riders can reach 65 km/hour.  At these speeds, laps can take between 45 seconds to 1 minute 15 seconds.  As cyclists ride at such high speeds, the entirety of the course will be closed to traffic during the crit.  Williams says the complete freedom cyclists have on the road minimizes the chance of accidents, though fences and mats will be set up on corners in case someone goes down.

The criterium will run rain or shine, though rain does slow down the speed of racers.  There will be a professional commentator at the corner of the Shaw building, Williams recommends spectators unfamiliar with procedures should try and watch near him.  The commentator will have a loudspeaker to update the crowd on what is happening and what they will see.

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