If the thought of watching cyclists race through the twists and turns of a road course as screaming fans cheer them on gets your adrenaline pumping, you’ll love your first criterium. A criterium (or “crit”) is a bicycle road race held on a short course, often on blocked-off city streets. The course is typically set up with laps a half-mile to 1.5 miles long and four to six turns, and participants complete multiple laps. Criteriums are particularly spectator-friendly because racers pass a given location several times during the race, allowing fans to watch the high-speed action up-close throughout the race.
For competitive U.S.A. Cycling races, riders are classified on the basis of two characteristics, viz., age, and skill level. The races an individual may enter are based on a combination of the individual’s age group and skill category. For example, a race described as a Master 35+ 4/5 is open to riders who are 35 years old or older and are a category 4 or 5.
Age groups are categorized as follows: Youth (riders having racing age of 8 years of age and under), Junior (riders having racing age between 9 and 18), U23 (riders having racing age from 19 through 22), Elite (riders having racing age of 23 through 29), and Master (riders having racing age of 30 and over). Racing age is the year of the event minus the rider’s birth year, according to U.S.A. Cycling.
Skill group categories are as follows:
Category 5: Novice or entry-level racers
Category 4: Racers who have limited racing experience, but have more than 10 mass race starts
Category 3: Experienced/seasoned racers who have upgraded on experience and performance
Category 2: National level racers
Category 1: International level racers
Professional: Cat 1 racers who are contracted with a registered with a UCI professional team
Crits are wildly popular with both racers and spectators. They are described by bicycling.com as a “delightfully manic” experience. Over 25 countries have full-blown criterium national championships. And the U.S. is widely regarded as the center of the crit universe. “Everyone comes here to race, especially the Aussies and Germans,” according to Butcherbox Cycling pro-rider and winner of America’s oldest bike race, Connor Sallee. The U.S. sets the global standard for race quality, creativity, and volume of races across the country.
Florida held its state championships on October 3 and 4, which was sponsored by Bill Bone Bike Law. The 2020 Bill Bone Florida State Criterium Championships was held at the St. Lucie Fairgrounds in Fort Pierce, Florida. Over 380 riders participated, and thousands of fans were on hand to cheer on the action. Riders participated in races of all skill levels from Cat 5 to Pro, with dozens of pro-level riders taking part in the event. Results have been submitted to U.S.A. Cycling for points and can be viewed here.