Marie McAden



South Carolina hosts two USA Crits Speed Week races

Posted 4/29/2013 6:15:00 PM

It’s been described as NASCAR on two wheels. Picture a pack of 100 cyclists barreling down narrow city streets, around tight corners and across cobblestone pavers, at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour.

It doesn’t get any more exciting than criterium racing. Two such events will take place this month in South Carolina as part of USA Crits Speed Week, a closed-circuit, multi-lap cycling competition featuring seven races in nine days.

The fifth heat in the series — the Spartanburg Regional Classic — is set for Friday, May 3. Some 400 professional and amateur racers will run the half-mile loop around the Denny’s tower, down Main, Church, Broad and Converse streets — over and over and over again.

And that’s what makes criterium racing so much fun to watch. Spectators can line the streets and get up close to the action. And because it’s such a short course, the action is pretty much non-stop.

Oh, and did I mention it’s free!

The Spartanburg Regional Classic will start at 4 p.m. with one women’s and three men’s amateur cycling races. The professional women cyclists will hit the street at 7 p.m., followed by the men’s pro race at 8:30 p.m.

Riding on bikes weighing 17 pounds or less, the competitors will peddle an average 25 to 30 mph for more than an hour. Their heart rates will accelerate to 150 to 180 beats per minute, with some reaching as high as 200 beats per minute in the final laps.

This year’s USA Crits Speed Week will feature one other South Carolina race — the Downtown Walterboro Criterium being held May 1.

For more information on either race, click here.