Competitive cycling event continues at WMU

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Photo of WMU Criterium.

Criterium July 14 at Parkview Campus.

KALAMAZOO--Cyclists are gearing up for Western Michigan University's seventh annual competitive cycling day set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo, home to the University's engineering college as well as its Business Technology and Research Park.

The 2012 Miller Energy Criterium is being organized by WMU and the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. It will include 11 separate races throughout the day for participants of every age and ability level. Online registration ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 11. Race-day registration opens at 6:30 a.m. on site in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center and closes 30 minutes prior to each race.

Racing will begin with the Men's Elite 4 event at 8 a.m. and conclude with the Junior, ages-10-to-14 event at 5 p.m. A race for kids of all ages will be held at 1:15 p.m., with free helmets given out to participants while supplies last. A total of $6,000 in prize money will be awarded during the 2012 criterium.

The criterium is the most popular form of bike racing in the United States. It is the cycling equivalent of the Indy 500--full of high-speed and intense action. Cyclists race on a closed-circuit track, completing each lap in about one minute while traveling at speeds in excess of 30 mph as they race to be the first to cross the finish line without being passed.

A short, closed course makes criterium cycling an ideal spectator sport. For WMU's event, spectators may park at the University's soccer field off Parkview Avenue east of Drake Road, then watch the fast, aggressive action free of charge. Competitors will be racing around a 1.1-mile course that features smooth pavement with three 90-degree turns and multiple sweeping turns.
 The criterium will be held rain or shine. Food and beverages will be available for purchase, and vendors will be on hand offering cycling gear and accessories. Registration for the kid's race is free. The entry fee for all other races ranges from $10 to $30.

The Miller Energy Criterium is part of the area's Race Weekend activities that also include a women's racing clinic from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Friday, July 13, at the Parkview Campus in front of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a charity race for the Make-A-Wish Foundation at 8 a.m. Sunday, July 15, in Lawton, Mich.

For more information, including how to register and driving directions to WMU's Parkview Campus, visit kalamazoobicycleclub.org.