Gear up for the 38th Concord Criterium cycling race this week

Cyclists pedal off the starting line at the 2017 Concord Criterium outside White Park in Concord last August.  Courtesy of Patrick Ruane
Cyclists pedal off the starting line at the 2017 Concord Criterium outside White Park in Concord last August. Courtesy of Hairymike Photo
Top-level racers lean into the first turn onto Washington Street at the 2017 Concord Criterium. Courtesy of Patrick Ruane
Top-level racers lean into the first turn onto Washington Street at the 2017 Concord Criterium. Courtesy of Hairymike Photo

Ladies and gentlemen, start your bicycles – Concord is about to once again host the Concord Criterium and New England Criterium Championships, the 38th annual installment of the bicycle race.

This Saturday, the roads surrounding White Park will be full of Spandex-clad cycling enthusiasts giving it their all to try to earn a spot on the podium – and, in many cases, cold, hard cash.

The full day of races features a variety of entry categories based on age, gender and skill level. The Criterium is open to a wide range of cyclists, from 14-year-olds just starting out to professional riders from their 20s all the way up to their 70s. It’s a fast-paced, highly competitive and spectator-friendly race that sends riders in a 1.06-mile loop around the city’s iconic, historic park just outside downtown.

For professional and otherwise serious cyclists, the event also serves as the New England championship for USA Cycling (excluding teens, who have their own championship). For everyone else, it’s just a good, competitive race that takes you on a quick tour of a nice part of the city.

Entrant categories include Junior Men (14 -18), Men 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 is entry level and 1 is pro level), Junior Women (14-18), Women 4/5 and Master Women 55+ (levels 1-4), Master Men 55+ (levels 1-4), Master Men 40+ (levels 1-4), Women 1/2/3, Men 3/4 and Men 1/2/3. If you don’t know which level you are, you’re probably a 5, the most basic level there is. If you’ve been riding on the USA Cycling circuit, you’ll know which level you slot into.

Registration is open at bikereg.com/concordcrit until Thursday, after which point race-day registration will be available at White Park for an additional $10, race director Patrick Ruane said. Online registration is $15 for the junior divisions and $35 for everyone else.

Race lengths vary by division, but the shortest race runs about 45 minutes and the longest lasts about 75 minutes.

All racers will need to have a license with USA Cycling. One-day licenses will be available at the race for $10. Apart from the registration fee and the license fee, there are also a couple surcharges totaling $4.75.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top finishers in all of the adult divisions beyond level 5. To be eligible for the prizes, riders must hold a valid one-year license from USA Cycling. Those without licenses can still earn smaller prizes, usually merchandise from some of the event’s sponsors, Ruane said.

There will be some medical and mechanical staff on hand to assist with any issues that might arise during the course of the day, which starts with the first race at 8:20 a.m. and goes until the final race, which starts at 2:35 p.m., is over.

“The course lends itself to being so safe that you can have a large field and still have a great racing experience,” Ruane said. “It’s safe, really good racing.”

For more information, go to bikereg.com/concordcrit or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.

Author: Jon Bodell

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