Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Toronto Criterium

Last night after work I decided to check out the Toronto Criterium. According to Wiki, a criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city centre streets. This one was held in the downtown Toronto core in the St. Lawrence Market area, which is just about 15 minutes east by foot from my office building. It was the 2nd of recent years, having returned last year after a 17 year hiatus.

On the way over there I passed the Metro Convention Hall which coincidentally was hosting Bill Clinton and George Bush in a speaking engagement. As a consequence, there was a protest going on and the road was blocked off and the police were keeping the protesters at bay on the other side of the street. Always something interesting going on in the city for sure.

I found the race circuit and claimed a spot with a clear view straight in front of the starting line. There was excitement in the air and a great crowd had gathered to see the action. Two races were being held, not counting the children's race which was just finishing as I arrived. The first race was for all except the elite cyclists. In other words it was for the masses and there must have been a hundred cyclists. The course itself, I don't believe, would have been more than 3 KM but it is a duration event - 1 hour plus 5 laps, so it was a fast race for a cycling event. Normally they are much longer than that. In races like these there is always a danger of crashes when the riders are all jambed up in close quarters. There are a lot of bikes out on the course, as you can tell from the pictures.

Rare Tricycle
Before the race started, we were privileged to view a "promotional" lap by Shelley Gautier, 40, who wants to be the first Canadian woman to compete in paracycling on a trike at the 2012 Paralympics in London, England. She rides a specially constructed three-wheeled bike approved for international racing competitions, the only one of its kind in Ontario. Shelley was a competitive racing cyclist when some years ago she was involved in a mishap during a race - her helmet was put to the test and did not help her as much as one would think it should and she ended up with a brain injury and paralysis on her left side.

See here for more info about Shelley

After that the race got started it was very intense. The racers took not much over 1 mnute to do 1 circuit, so there would be about 66-65 turns around the course for those that finished. I was in a good position to get a lot of great photos which I will finish this blog with. I must admit, after I watched 3-4 laps I decided to head on home by way of the Dogs Balls Bar, where my daughter works, so I could visit with her and catch up with the new of the week.

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