The color, speed and excitement of bike racing returned to South Minneapolis this Sunday. The Southside Sprint races took over a portion of the Northrup neighborhood from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and racers and fans lined the streets of Chicago Ave. to take in the spectacle.
The weather could not have been better – clear and sunny with a light breeze. The turn-out for this event was very strong, particularly considering that this was the first Southside Sprint race and the first race in South Minneapolis for about 20 years. Approximately 30 racers participated in the Citizen’s race, about 40 racers battled it out in the Cat 4 – 5 race, and the Cat 3 race drew about 33 racers. Spectators numbered in the hundreds at the start/finish at 48th St. and Chicago Ave., and I saw many more families gathered on their front lawns in the residential neighborhoods that hosted this event enjoying the race and spending time together.
The course was interesting but also challenging. Ben Haney participated in the Masters race and told me that he enjoyed the course, noting that the “L” shaped course for this race was more interesting than a lot of the criterium courses he has ridden. Ben also told me that he enjoyed the residential feel of the route, which was a nice change of pace from many of the other races he has participated in. The climb up Chicago Ave. and immediate descent, plus the many corners, made for exciting spectating throughout the entire course.
The local businesses also seem to have benefitted from the race – Adrian’s Bar set up a grill and was turning out hamburgers and brats, Pepito’s was busy with brunch-eating race spectators, and Turtle Bread’s outside seating was entirely full for most of the day today as people enjoyed food and racing. Mike Kmiecik, owner of Bikes and Pieces (one of the main organizers behind the Southside Sprint and the President of the local business association at 48th and Chicago) told me that the race organizers were taking donations to improve bike parking at 48th and Chicago during the event, which is much appreciated as this is an issue I have worked on for about 6 months now.
All in all it was a great day and a wonderful event. Hopefully the Southside Sprint will become an annual event. Congratulations and thank you to all the riders and the organizers for making this happen.