There they’ll go again — and, soon enough, again.
The annual bicycle criterium in downtown Goshen will be the focus of this week’s First Fridays festival. Cycle races start at 4 p.m.
Local bicycling advocate Evan Bontrager explained that a criterium route is a loop.
“It’s really great for spectators because spectators can stay in one place and they see the same racers every 60 to 90 seconds and can watch them jockey for position every time they go around,” he said. “It’s called a short course, usually less than one mile. It’s always closed off on city streets.”
Downtown Goshen Inc. director Gina Leichty said riders will start off on Main Street by The Goshen Theater, head south to Jefferson Street, east to Fifth Street, north to Lincoln Avenue, and then travel south again on Main. The track, just a two-block loop, is shorter for this year’s event.
“That should be very interesting for spectators because it will be extremely fast,” Leichty said. “...It’ll take the riders probably about a minute to get around the track.”
Leichty pointed out that Friday’s event is a nationally sanctioned race.
“We’ve been part of the Indiana-Kentucky cup, with riders participating for points,” she said. “...This year, we’re also part of the national Graffiti Road series.”
Leichty is anticipating at least 150 riders Friday from at least five states. The event draws cyclists from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan.
“Sometimes we get folks from Wisconsin,” she added. Last year, there were also participants from Kansas and Pennsylvania.
“There are crits all around,” she said of the event. “(Riders will) go from our crit to a different one on Saturday and spend all weekend competing.”
Leichty said the biking competition was started to elevate the awareness that Goshen is a biking community.