Cyclists battled potholes, puddles and the occasional wild animal during the Golden Gopher Campus Criterium bicycle race Sunday.
Hosted by the University of Minnesota Cycling Team, the race brought nearly 50 collegiate cyclists from around the state and the Midwest to the University campus.
The races briefly shut down parts of East River Parkway, Pillsbury Drive, Pleasant Street Southeast and Arlington Street.
Three permits were required for the race — one from the University, one from USA Cycling, which sanctions the race, and one from the city of Minneapolis, which owns the 256-foot stretch of Arlington Street.
“It’s a really unique race. You don’t typically have the ability to shut down roads,” said Nicole Waxmonsky, an event organizer.
This is likely the last year that the race will be held in that location because of light-rail construction.
Planning for the event began in January. Along with securing permits, the group had to raise funds and put up barricades.
Sunday’s race, officially the North Central Collegiate Cycling Conference Criterium Championship, finished off the regular cycling season and determined who will be heading to the national competition in May.
A criterium is a short race. In cycling, race length is often decided by time or number of laps. Sunday’s race lengths started with a set time limit, and after the first two or three laps, the referees calculated a set number laps for racers to complete within that time.
Parents and friends came to support cyclists early. The first men’s race was scheduled to start at 7:45 a.m. but was combined with the first women’s race because of low female turnout.
Very few cyclists were injured. Kevin Chung, a University junior, took a corner too fast, hit the curb and went over his handle bars during his first lap of the day, reinjuring cycling wounds that had just finished healing. Chung scraped his elbow, hip and side in the fall.
“It could be worse,” Chung said.
Chung and a few other University cyclists fell during their respective races. Most of the crowd gathered near the finish line to watch the race, far from where the accidents occurred.
“It’s sort of nerve-racking,” Kathy Schuchard, who attended to watch her son compete, said.
Schuchard stood next to Mary Jane Quass, whose son took a spill during the race when his bike chain snapped.
“Every time, you know pretty much in the pack where they are and when your son didn’t come through in the pack, you knew that something had happened,” Schuchard said in reference to Quass.
Multiple safety precautions were taken to protect riders. Hay bales were put in front of poles on corners, markings notified riders of potholes and cyclists were required to wear a helmet whenever they were riding their bikes.
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