The air has cleared and the skies are blue again – at least at press time – and Wheat Ridge is a prime location to enjoy September bicycle fun and the return of the Ridge at 38 Criterium. The second weekend of September is essentially an unofficial city celebration of that two-wheeled apparatus, the bicycle.
The main event of this bike weekend is the Ridge at 38 Criterium on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – but there are other events leading up to it. The criterium is a street bike race on a 1.15-mile closed course in the 38th Avenue Business District and residential streets south of 38th Avenue. The start and finish lines, one and the same, are at 38th Avenue and High Court. During the race, 38th Avenue will be closed between Pierce and Teller streets.
Criteriums are known for high speeds of up to 30 mph, with multiple laps and numerous corners, making it a specialized sport for those with very agile bodies and minds. “It’s really fast,” said Race Director Paul Balaguer. Balaguer is a rider himself and has done criterium races. It can get aggressive and tight in the Peloton (the group of cyclists). “We are super excited,” said Jenny Snell, community programs manager of Localworks, which is organizing events around the race, and providing cowbells to cheer on the cyclists.
The weekend begins with a casual cruiser ride on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m., starting outside of Wheat Ridge Cyclery, 7035 W. 38th Ave. Cruiser rides are group bike rides that entail leisurely pedaling, with stops at local establishments for food, drink and possible libations.
On the Ridge movie night for September carries on the bicycle theme with “American Flyers.” The free screening is on Friday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m., in front of Stevens Elementary School on The Green, 7101 W. 38th Ave. The family-friendly 1985 sports movie is about a fictitious race called, “Hell of the West,” and stars Kevin Costner. Many of the mountain racing scenes were filmed in Colorado during the now defunct 1980s-era Coors International Bicycle Classic.
On race day, a free community fun ride takes place on the closed course in between races at 2:20 p.m. There will also be a kid’s zone and local varied vendors. There isn’t an official brewfest this year, but brewers will supply their summer specialties. The Ridge at 38 Criterium is this year’s State Criterium Championship, the conclusion of the Colorado Criterium Season. The season started in May, with racers acquiring points in multiple races all over the state. The cyclist with the most points wins the Rocky Mountain Cup.
There are nine amateur and professional races total in the Ridge at 38 Criterium. Each race is divided into categories determined by rider skill level and are 40 to 60 minutes long, with five-minute break periods in between each race to allow for street traffic. A race may have up to 50 cyclists.
The purses, or cash prizes, are the same for men’s and women’s races, and are determined by how many riders register. A purse can be more than $1,000 per race, with the first-place winner receiving half, and second and third receiving the balance.
In its seventh year (there was no race in 2020), upwards of 300 have registered and raced at the Ridge on 38 Criterium. Criterium cyclists often register on race day itself, up to an hour before the races begin. (To register online as a rider visit www.bikereg.com/49093.)
For more information visit: ridgeat38.com/criterium