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The city of Berwyn recently adopted ATA's biking/walking/transit plan. The city will be holding events to help promote this plan. As a member of the citizen advisory committee, I thought a criterium would be a cool event to host. This would be non-sanctioned, just a fun event to showcase biking and all things Berwyn. I was thinking about a 5k course, 30 miles in length, with different classes for all types of riders. What experiences have you guys had with criterium's?....Is this a good length for such an event?...Would a bicycle event like this encourage you to come and check Berwyn out?....I envision a fun event, Svengoolie as the Grand Race Marshall?.....A rubber chicken drop on riders ala WKRP's turkey drop?...

Opportunity abounds...

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What do you mean by non-sanctioned?  If you mean that it isn't sanctioned by the usac or abr, that's cool but you should talk to some promoters to see if that makes sense.  You'd want to get liability insurance at the very minimum and probably medical personnel as well given that it's almost certain that someone is going to crash and probably need some medical attention.  If you're sanctioned by usac or abr, you can get insurance through them.  

Considering how lycra/speed and all the fun things that go with lycra/speed averse this "community" is, I'm not so sure this is a great place to ask opinions so you might was to contact the folks at www.chicagobikeracing.com and talk with some race promoters.  As a spectator and fan of bicycle racing, I'm not sure I'd make an effort to see a non-sanctioned event, but that's just me.  

It is great to hear that Berwyn has adopted a biking/walking/transit plan. For a plan such as that to succeed biking needs to be accepted and understood as a normal, economical viable every-day method of transportation. Sure it is fun to ride a bike, but it also gets real stuff done - letting people move themselves and their stuff from point A to point B and back. I don't see how it helps that cause to host an spectator event where participants expend tremendous amounts of energy to ride around in a circle - on a closed track, on very expensive bikes, wearing expensive gear for no other reason but the competition of it. It seems to be sending the very opposite message of a biking/walking/transit plan. It sends a message that biking is something to watch rather than something to do. That is is expensive and that it is only for athletes.


I've got nothing against crits. I really enjoyed the criterium I watched in Blue Island a few years ago, but I don't see how such an event would help Berwyn get regular people to bike, walk and take transit.

A criterium will be just one phase of the event. I thought a 5k run and family bicycle ride could be held on the same day as long as the streets were already closed. A bike/walk and dine, or a bungalo bike tour could also be incorporated into another event....I think the family ride would be the big deal of the day, I remember when we had our block parties how excited the kids were to ride their bikes on the closed street. You are right Tony, the point is to get the average citizen into bicycle riding.

Glad to hear that you're on the committee, Bernard!

Criteriums/Competitive Bike Racing = Entertainment

Bike Riding = Healthy Lifestyle

In so far as supporting the Citys' adoption of a transit plan, a family fun ride will be more attractive to the community and more directly reflect the aim of the transit plan than a race could ever be.

A bike race requires a level of sponsorship, logistics and permits that the City will not have interest in. Usually there is an independent Promoter for the bike race who is responsible for prize money, registration, officials, permits, etc etc etc.

As it's the first year, I recommend keeping it small and aim the event towards getting people on their bikes. They can become spectators later.

I'd agree that working with a race promoter would be the way to go.  The crit that's been held in Beverly for several years is VERY popular.  They have a festival starting before the race and ending a while later with music, food and beer.  The food and beer vendors are popular local businesses, and they sell a LOT.  The crowd is thousands of people spread out along the route.  A neighborhood group organizes a Big Wheel race for the little kids before the main event.  Plenty of people come from outside the neighborhood.  This event and the Memorial Day 5K/10K race consistently draw big crowds.

I've enjoyed riding in Berwyn for years, and I'm glad to hear that they've adopted a bike/walk/transit plan.

A few thoughts regarding dates - do NOT have it on the same date as the Oak Park Cycle Club's Wright Ride (usually the 3rd Sunday in August) or the Active Transportation Alliance's Four Star Bike Tour (Sunday 8/26), as both of those rides are likely to pass through Berwyn.


The criterium series which includes the Beverly and Evanston races runs from 7/6-7/22 this year.

That's a pretty broad stereotype to have.  Most of those people racing on bikes spend 10+ hours a week  working out.  They are probably just as fit or in better shape than most of people (bike commuters included). Establishing the dichotomy between the two is even more egregious since bike messengers founded at least two of the racing teams in the chicago area (xxx racing, the largest one in chicago, and chicago cutting crew).  

Anne said:

Glad to hear that you're on the committee, Bernard!

Criteriums/Competitive Bike Racing = Entertainment

Bike Riding = Healthy Lifestyle

How can someone be a fan and spectator of bicycle racing, but they won't make an effort to watch a race if it isn't sanctioned? I like the "racing" part of bicycle racing, I find it enjoyable whether its sanctioned or not. I think Berwynites probably won't care whether its sanctioned either.

Very simple, the better racers go to the sanctioned races.  Better racers = better racing = better spectating.  

Vando said:

How can someone be a fan and spectator of bicycle racing, but they won't make an effort to watch a race if it isn't sanctioned? I like the "racing" part of bicycle racing, I find it enjoyable whether its sanctioned or not. I think Berwynites probably won't care whether its sanctioned either.

"This would be non-sanctioned, just a fun event to showcase biking and all things Berwyn. I was thinking about a 5k course, 30 miles in length, with different classes for all types of riders". 

By the sound of this, maybe an endurance ride would be better.  Close the course for 3-8 hours and see who can log the most miles, anyone can participate. Stagger the start. No racing needed.  In Milwaukee the do a 24 hours thing that is very fun. And all types of people participate in that.  You don't need a racing license. And you and your friends can do a 24 hour relay.

any rides like that in chicago? I would definitely participate in that

Chuckchuck said:

"This would be non-sanctioned, just a fun event to showcase biking and all things Berwyn. I was thinking about a 5k course, 30 miles in length, with different classes for all types of riders". 

By the sound of this, maybe an endurance ride would be better.  Close the course for 3-8 hours and see who can log the most miles, anyone can participate. Stagger the start. No racing needed.  In Milwaukee the do a 24 hours thing that is very fun. And all types of people participate in that.  You don't need a racing license. And you and your friends can do a 24 hour relay.

I like the idea of a 24 hour race if logistically possible. Crits are fun and cool, but I don't think they would necessarily be the best venue for promoting the Berwyn bike plan. Crits are generally 1k or 1 mile loops that showcase speed and bike handling. The course is closed off to the public but does draw a decent crowd if well promoted. I think a better idea would be a run ride or bike tour of some sorts to showcase all that Berwyn has to offer and how easy it is to get around on a bike.

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