By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — See it and, perhaps, feel it.
Spectators will have that opportunity this weekend in downtown Goshen during a criterium and bike festival, the focus of this month’s First Fridays celebration.
This is the third year for a First Fridays bicycle race. This year’s event has expanded to two days — Friday and Saturday — and will include more races, as well as other bike-related activities for families and children.
Pumpkinvine Cyclery owner Spencer Short is an organizer of the event. He said a criterium is a closed-circuit run, allowing race fans to see riders pass by multiple times.
“It’s a very fast-paced race and very exciting to watch,” Short said. “And they’re (riders) within inches of each other.” Spectators close to the action may even feel the rush of air from cyclists speeding by, he suggested.
This year’s race route starts on Main Street downtown, heading south to a hairpin turn at Madison Street. Riders will head back north and turn east onto Jefferson Street. Cyclists will then turn onto Fifth Street, heading north to Lincoln Avenue, where they’ll take a left. The loop then completes itself on Main.
Same-day race registration starts at 3 p.m. Friday on East Washington Street, and the race course closes at 4 p.m. Races begin at 6 p.m., with awards and prizes given out on the stage at the start/finish line at 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, same-day registration starts at 10 a.m. on East Washington. Races begin at 11 a.m. and run throughout the afternoon. Awards and prizes will be given out at 6:30 p.m. at the start/finish line stage. Streets will open to automobile traffic at 8 p.m.
Organizers are expecting cyclists from at least seven states to participate over the two-day event.
“I’m guessing we’ll have quite a few more racers this year than last year,” Short said.
Downtown Goshen Director and event coordinator Gina Leichty said that while this is the third year for the criterium, the bike festival as a whole is new. In addition to racers, activities will be available for families and younger riders.
First Fridays festivities will include a Bike Parade Friday afternoon. Participants are invited to decorate their bikes or show up in costume, if they wish. Riders should meet at the corner of Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue at 4:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 5. An awards ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Ignition Music, 120 E. Washington St.
Saturday’s activities will include a Kids’ Race at 11 a.m. for children ages 3 to 9, followed by a Juniors’ Race at 11:45 a.m. for riders ages 10 to 18.
Leichty also highlighted that there’s a tandem bike race this year. That event is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
In addition to cycling events, First Fridays will also feature the second-ever “Taste of Goshen,” sponsored by the Community Relations Commission. Food from a variety of cultures will be available from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at the corner of Washington and Fifth streets.
During “Taste of Goshen,” CRC members will be available to answer questions about the commission and provide information about its work.
Also, Goshen Firefighters Local 1443 will be having a beer garden fundraiser along East Washington Street. Proceeds will go into a benefit fund for local firefighter Scott Thomas and his family. Thomas has been diagnosed with brain cancer.