If you’re not familiar with bicycle racing, you may be wondering what a crit or criterium is. It’s just a bicycle race, right? Yes, a criterium is a bicycle race, but it isn’t just a bicycle race. A criterium is a really cool kind of race that features relentlessly high-paced racing on a short closed loop course that gives spectators plenty of access to the action.
One reason criteriums are so intense is because they’re much shorter than a typical road race. Competitors have less time to make a definitive move that will separate them from the rest of the field, so they’re more willing to go to the limit trying to make something happen. A criterium course is also more technically challenging than a road course. There are turns. Lots and lots of turns. Each one taken at speed spreads the field out like an accordian, creating gaps that each rider must close or be confronted with the unforgiving laws of aerodynamics.
A crit is often described as Nascar on 2 wheels. With 20,000-plus spectators on the course, the atmosphere is electric. Over the constant cheering of the crowd you hear the gentle whir of more than one hundred bicycle tires approaching. The peloton is coming towards you at speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour, but the faces you see show no signs of fatigue. The crowd roars as the racers draw closer, and then as they race by you feel a breeze that makes you think a tractor trailer went speeding by.
That was no truck.That was just one lap of the Rochester Twilight Criterium. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for an evening of the most intense competition you’ll see anywhere.