It’s probably safe to say the word “criterium” hasn’t made the average American’s sports lexicon, but for cyclists, it’s one of the most daring racing styles in the discipline.
A criterium, aka “crit,” is a bike race held on a course of usually less than a mile, typically on closed-off city streets, in which cyclists race for a certain number of laps or a designated amount of time. Competitive cyclists often ride just inches apart, maneuvering many turns, accelerating and braking, and as a result, can be involved in some gnarly crashes.
Can anyone say broken collar bones and road rash?
But it’s cycling’s equivalent to NASCAR and can be entertaining to watch, particularly as the super competitive pass by at speeds of 35-plus miles per hour creating a brief gust of wind.
USA Crits, which has hosted its Speed Week in Georgia and South Carolina towns, including Walterboro, for years, has now brought North Charleston into the fold, holding a criterium race at Park Circle starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The event kicks off with beginner women’s races, then kids (at around 4:30 p.m.), then progressively to the pro and experienced cyclists. The women race 35 laps starting at 6:30 p.m. The men race 50 laps starting at 7:30 p.m. (so yeah, they’ll be racing at night).
Myles Lietzke, president of the Low Country Racing, says the event is not the same as the club’s Park Circle Criterium Weekend in March 2014, but USA Crits will be using the same course.
“We are still planning on trying to do our race weekend but with the timing of Speed Week, it will be later in the year,” says Lietzke.
Speed Week kicks off with the Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight Criterium on Saturday in Athens, Ga., then heads to Roswell, Ga., on Sunday. Cyclists get a day off to cross the border. After the Park Circle race Tuesday, it goes to downtown Walterboro on Wednesday and concludes in Spartanburg on May 1.
For schedules and registration information, go to usacrits.com/speed-week.
Contrasting with the often splashy, sponsor-covered spandex set, a different breed of cyclist will get together at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Moultrie Playground for the Blue Collar Bandits third annual Hash-Bash, a race in downtown Charleston with “interactive checkpoints.” A group ride leaves the park at 4 p.m. to the “secret start” of the race.
Tyler Roach of Blue Collar Bandits says any and all cyclists are welcome to participate.
Hash-Bash is the first of four races in the 2015 South-East Alleycat Series. SEAS is a points series consisting of Hash-Bash III in April, Mother May I Alleycat in May, Americat III in July, and the championship race, MessCat II, in August.
Racers will receive points during each race that will be added cumulatively throughout the series leading up to the championship. The races will get progressively more challenging.
Meanwhile, those who race on two feet also have a lot of options this weekend, including the only race held on the beach of Sullivan’s Island.
The sixth annual Run for Adela 5K will be 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at Station 16. The event also includes a kids run.
The event was started in 2010 to commemorate the life of Adela Holmes Cook, an 18-year-old Charleston native who passed away in 2009 from injuries sustained in a golf cart accident while on vacation.
The proceeds from this year’s race will specifically fund a scholarship for a child at Meeting Street Academy to attend middle school at Charleston Day School.
In addition to the scholarship, a portion of the proceeds also will be given to Camp Happy Days, a nonprofit organization that provides a fun, relaxed environment and positive outlet for kids battling cancer.
Yet another off-road running experience comes via Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s third annual Where the Wild Things Run 5K Run and Walk at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at 654-acre Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel.
The race is a definite for nature lovers because Caw Caw is well known for its trails and wildlife, hence the name of the race.
Caw Caw is rich in natural, cultural and historical resources. The scenic park features more than seven miles of trails with trail-side exhibits, elevated boardwalks through wetlands, historic rice fields, a former tea farm, wildlife habitats and more.
That being the case, dogs are not allowed on Caw Caw.
In addition to the 5K, a kids run will be held for children ages 12 and younger. Children ages 6 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
Online registration for Where the Wild Things Run is open at 3 p.m. Friday. If spaces are still available, late registration will be held on race day from 7-8 a.m. Registration fees are $34. Residents of Charleston County receive a discounted fee of $28 when registering in advance.
CharlestonCountyParks.com/WTWTR or call 843-795-4386.
Last but certainly not least, one of the oldest continuous runs in the Lowcountry will be held Saturday.
Part of the Colleton County Rice Festival, the Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative Rice Run 5K run and walk will be at 8 a.m. at the First Federal of South Carolina at 300 Hampton St. in Walterboro. A 1-mile fun run starts at 9 a.m.