Last June saw the beginning of a new Riverton tradition when cycling competitors from several states converged on the gaslamp lined streets of our village for the first Historic Riverton Criterium. Last year, many people didn’t hear about the race until it was over and they expressed regret at having missed all the fun.
No excuses this year—the word is out!
Given the hearty reception shown by racers, spectators, and residents last year, race promoter Carlos Rogers anticipates a bigger and better bicycling event for 2012 with more sponsors, more cyclists, and more prizes when the USA Cycling sanctioned contest returns Sunday, June 10, 2012, for its sophomore run through Riverton’s thoroughfares. The first race starts at 1 p.m., but come early and make a day of it.
To the uninitiated, a criterium is a bicycle race of a specified number of laps on a closed course over public roads closed to normal traffic. According to USA Cycling, it is the most popular form of competitive road cycling in the US but, until last year, most Rivertonians were unfamiliar with this exciting sport that brings the excitement of high-speed racing to Main Street, USA where the action unfolds to within feet of spectators lining the one kilometer course along neighborhood streets.
During a typical hour-or-so long match of 20-50 laps (depending on ability), racers speed by onlookers in the battle for supremacy that tests the athlete’s racing strategy and technique as much, if not more than, his conditioning and endurance. Cyclists accelerate to 30 mph or more on a straightaway and barely brake as they lean into a tight turn at an angle on those impossibly skinny tires that seem to defy the Laws of Motion.
Attacks and chases ensue as riders jockey for pack position. Those who find themselves at a rear position experience the “accordion effect” of having to slow down more than others as the pack bunches up going into the turn while others who spend early effort to stay out front may find that they have nothing left for the sprint of that last critical lap. Racers who cannot react to changing course conditions in a split second crash or get left behind.
No wonder they say that to be a truly good bike racer one has to “learn how to suffer.” Writers have compared the thrill of “crit” racing to being part Nascar, part Thunderdome, part Tour de France.
Mr. Rogers, himself a former competitive cyclist, planned with USA Cycling officials, lobbied borough council, and worked with borough employees to bring this family-friendly event to his adopted hometown. In addition to providing cash prizes for the racers, last year’s meet benefited Riverton’s Memorial Park, the Shade Tree Commission, the Boy Scouts, and Palmyra Ambulance Association. Proceeds from this 2nd Annual Historic Riverton Criterium are earmarked to benefit the Riverton Free Library.
Whether one is aware of the nuances of competitive cycling or not, you will enjoy the experience of feeling the whoosh of riders careen by as fans cheer and clang cowbells in support of their favorites. Just as porch parties, cookouts, reunions, and good old-fashioned family fun go with Riverton’s Glorious Fourth festivities, Carlos hopes that the Historic Riverton Criterium generates the same kind of hometown celebrations. The bonus is that everybody wins in this race when proceeds benefit Riverton Free Library, an institution which serves so many area residents.
Conditioning and training are key for the competitors. However, it is the race promoter’s planning and preparation that are crucial to a successful, safe, and well-executed crit for athletes and spectators alike. Mr. Rogers has certainly done his due diligence in coordinating with Public Works, law enforcement, government officials, USA Cycling officials, and residents while enlisting the participation and support of athletes, sponsors, friends, and family through Facebook.
His twenty years of competitive cycling experience have given Carlos a perspective of things from the administration side. He remembers in his racing days holding off on registering until mere days before an event to provide options in case of injury or a change in his plans, but he admits, from where he now stands, waiting for sign-ups as the event draws closer is nerve-racking.
In the best tradition of the Ogdens, Grices, Biddles, Flanagans, Wrights and others who strove to improve Riverton during its early days, Mr. Rogers’ meticulous attention to detail, passion for the sport, and selfless desire to give back to the town and its organizations have added a new chapter to Riverton’s history and lore. He has established something worthwhile; the racers and spectators will come.
“Like” the Historic Riverton Criterium facebook page so you will be kept up to date on developments as they happen. Why not like us as well? We need all the friends we can get. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
There are three tiers of sponsorship—Friends of the Race, $100; Secondary, $250;, Primary, $500. Contact Carlos Rogers for information how you can help support this event. firstname.lastname@example.org The growing sponsor lineup so far includes (logos link to respective websites):
Bicycle Therapy, 221 south Street, Phila., PA
Holman Toyota-Scion, Route 73 N., Mount Laurel, NJ
Hush Salon Philadelphia, 45 N. 3rd. Phila., PA
Milanese Pizza, 519 Howard St., Riverton, NJ
Mr. Bill’s Bicycle Shop, Broad St., Palmyra, NJ
Nellie Bly’s Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour, 529 Main St., Riverton, NJ
NonStop Couriers, Philadelphia, South Jersey, King of Prussia http://www.nonstopcouriers.com/
Riverton Business Group
Vitaband digital health ID bracelets for athletes https://vitaband.net/home/
2012 Historic Riverton Criterium registration and map of the course https://www.bikereg.com/Net/15554
“The Fine Grounds of the Riverton Athletic Association,” Gaslight News article https://rivertonhistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/137_Gaslight_News_Sep09.pdf
2011 blog entry after the First Annual Historic Riverton Criterium https://rivertonhistory.com/2011/07/bicycle-races-past-present-and-hopefully-future/
USA Cycling http://www.usacycling.org/