THE CITY ON SPEED

Jump into the high-speed world of criterium racing- the Formula 1 of cycling – a true spectator event that brings the city to life.

“Mommy, I think you should design a race track for bicycles…” was the latest in a string of fantastic ideas garnered from my 5 year old daughter on the topic of cycling.

Last month we spent a sunny Sunday afternoon watching my daughters idea come to life. It’s called a criterium race and was organised by Lights by Linea. This cycling race style calls for a cordoned off inner city circuit of approximately a mile. Race categories vary dependant on age, racing machine and experience, but the concept remains true – tight corners, sprint bursts, tight groups jostling for position and front row seats for every spectator.

Lights by Linea Hero Challenge Crit: Photo by Cycle Teknix

I was distraught that I was not able to race that day. There is an element of the fiercely competitive in me, but it wasn’t that. It was that in this cycling concept I was able to share my passion and love of the sport with my family. We cheered for friends, young hopefuls and watched in awe as the elite categories whirred by at unthinkable speeds.

As the Cape Town Cycle Tour approaches, I am having to negotiate and come to terms with the many hours of training ahead. I love it, of course. Every excruciating climb, every exhilarating decent and the requisite amount of taxi-directed finger waving in between are a joy to me. Families of cyclists don’t always share the passion or understand the cranked out battle with others and with self. Leading up to my last race, I was spending upto 20hrs a week on my bike. It’s not something cyclist talk about, but we really should.

This is why the crit format was such a revelation to me. It’s the Formula 1 of cycling.
It’s family time plus bike.

So it is with great excitement that I’m looking forward to The Engen Cycle in the City Criterium Festival on October 25th. There are a range of categories from fanciful dress-up Crazy Cranks to the dressed up and fancy bikes of the elite racers. The speeds will be silly, the fixed gear and brake-less ride will demand reverence. Kids have a chance to try out the track too and every bicycle is welcome. My children will take it all in, meet the cyclists I hold in high regard and they want to ride their bikes even more because of it.

“Mommy, here is your helmet…” my daughter says to me a few days after the event, handing me my scuffed up skate-style head protection. “..its time to train so you can win the next one!”
Cycling redeemed.

It’s crit* time.

*A Criterium is a bike race held over a short course (approximately 2km) on cordoned off city streets. It is a popular race format as it is exciting to watch and demands a combination of speed and technical ability from participants. Corners are sharp, sprints are common and crashes not unheard of. The fixed gear race in particular demands that participants race in a single gear on a bicycle without brakes!
Social criterium rides are a great opportunity for young and budding cyclists to enjoy the splendor of a cycling event without the distances or competitive pressure of regular roads races.

  • AUTHOR POSTS
Urban Design & cycling advocate
Kirsten is a dedicated advocate for social justice, cycling and livable cities. An avid commuter and sports cyclist, Kirsten’s can-do attitude means that she never backs down from a challenge, whether its navigating the morning rush hour or racing a vintage road bike through the Karoo.
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Urban Design & cycling advocate
Kirsten is a dedicated advocate for social justice, cycling and livable cities. An avid commuter and sports cyclist, Kirsten’s can-do attitude means that she never backs down from a challenge, whether its navigating the morning rush hour or racing a vintage road bike through the Karoo.

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