Dude, bike racing…..that’s all I have to say! Oh, and beer….lots of beer. They go hand in hand. Well, at least on Tuesday nights at the Wheeler Crit in Oklahoma City.
A little history for all you newbies:
The Wheeler Crits have been taking place at the old downtown airport for longer than I have been riding, which isn’t that long, but longer than 4 years. The airport is dead and has been purchased by a couple of brothers who are turning it into a massive condo and shopping complex. The first piece installed was the Ferris wheel. The wheel was on the Santa Monica pier originally. But when it was torn down, one of the brothers bought it and had it restored in Kansas City, then installed at the Wheeler complex.
The entire complex border the river trail system and is a really cool addition to an area of the city that needs a lot of TLC…..that’s the nicest way I can put that!
Ok, back to the races…
Criteriums are circuit course races. It’s basically a circular, figure-8, or city street course that is around a mile, give or take, and each race goes for a set amount of time. Participants are separated into categories, or CATs, from pro to 5, 5 being the newest rider. There are some other categories like Masters, Juniors, etc too.
The Wheeler crits are a great way for local racers to train for bigger races. You pay your $20 and get into your CAT. In larger races, the officials can pull you if you get too far behind. At Wheeler, you aren’t pulled because the purpose of this event is to get more riders involved in the sport as well as let other racers train for bigger events.
Let me say one thing: this shit is hard! I participated in one, exactly ONE, crit in Enid, OK several years ago and had my ass handed to me about 200 yards into the race. I decided then and there it really wasn’t for me. However, I love watching the races and my friend Raynee (pronounced Renée) is very interested and has started racing as a cat-5. And she’s doing very well. She was the only female in the cat-5 race last night and beat several of the men. I couldn’t be more proud of her. Of course, she’s already an amazing athlete….but we’ll get to that another time.
Anyway, my friend Jim Timberlake won the men’s cat-5. He’s pictured below. The rest are of Raynee….I’m sure she’s going to kill me for posting these but she’s beautiful so I’m posting anyway!