Hi. I’m walking Bob and I can’t wait for one of the great annual events in Davis, the 34th Annual Fourth of July Criterium. For the non-bike race people, that’s when hundreds of bike riders go around in circles all day long and you have to be really careful crossing the downtown streets. For the biking aficionado, a criterium is “A multi-lap, one-day race on a closed, short course, typically one mile or less.” The Davis course is described at the website for the Davis Bike Club as a “0.7-mile L-shaped loop in downtown Davis. Flat course on moderate pavement with five 90-degree left turns and one 90-degree right turn. Start/Finish on F Street.”
I’d describe it as a huge group of bikes traveling faster than you believe they could travel on city streets with flag people on the corners and American flags everywhere.
The first race begins at 7:45 a.m. and there are five other races during the morning with races for men, women and juniors from ten to fourteen and from fifteen to eighteen. The junior racers, who have a $15 entry fee go for awards while the adults, who pay a $30 entry fee, have varying levels of cash prizes.
In the afternoon there are five more races, including the races for Pro Women and Pro Men, which have prizes valued at $1,000 and $1,900 respectively. Past winners include Greg Lemond so who knows who will show up to join the multitude of great riders from across Northern California and beyond who keep this race on their calendar every year.
This isn’t like the Amgen Tour of California where the drivers took a couple of slow rides around town and then headed off for the real race. The whole race takes place on the streets of Davis and the speeds that the bikers go would earn them speeding tickets on those downtown streets. It is truly amazing to watch a group of twenty to thirty riders zip around curves at very high speeds riding only inches away from the riders before them, after them and next to them.
In the middle of all of the competition there is a Kids Non-competitive Fun Ride that takes place at 11:30. Watching the kids on bicycles, tricycles and bikes with training wheels ride by as fast as their little legs will take them, possibly with some gentle pushing by a parent, will take them is a welcome break from the intensity of the competitive races. I would bet that some of the kids will be back in a few years joining the competition.
For more information, go to the Race Team Events section of the Davis Bike Club website at http://www.davisbikeclub.org/annual_events If you’re headed down, I’d advise walking, taking a bus, or taking a bike yourself because parking can get pretty intense. I know because I’m head usher at a church at the edge of the event and our congregation is going to have a tough time getting to church on Sunday.