Up-close racing action delights at Twilight Criterium [Slideshow]

Sunshine, bike racing, and big crowds came together on the North Park Blocks on Friday.
Gallery/Slideshow below –
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portlanders enjoyed a rare treat on Friday — a professional bike race downtown. The Twilight Criterium filled the North Park Blocks with high-speed racing action just a few feet away from hundreds of spectators. In addition to the racing, people took in the work of several local bike builders and enjoyed beer and food from local vendors.

Twilight Criterium-1
Twilight Criterium-5

Before the racing action got started, local bike builders took center stage. I caught up with Renovo Hardwood Bicycles owner Ken Wheeler. His new mountain bike — made from hickory — drew a lot of attention. His business has grown considerably since I first met him back in February 2008. He’s now got several employees and continues to expand and refine his line. Also displaying bikes were Cielo by Chris King, Signal Cycles, Winter Bicycles, and Tsunehiro Cycles.

Twilight Criterium-10

Condo balconies offered an excellent vantage point.
Twilight Criterium-14

As per usual at the Twilight, there were some hair-raising crashes. Check out this photo captured by local photog extraordinaire David “BikeRanger” Haines:

Crash captured by David Haines/BikeRanger.com.

From the bustling beer garden to the huge crowds lining the course and all the excellent action, this race has become firmly ensconced as a Portland classic. See more photos in my gallery or in the slideshow below:

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12 years ago

Ouch…that picture is awesome, were the riders (relatively) OK? No loose tennis balls this year?

12 years ago

I had a front-row view for one crash, not sure if it was the one pictured, and everyone got up fine, and carried their bikes off the road.

The race was never stopped at any point, and I never heard any ambulance sirens, so I imagine everyone who crashed was fine besides some roadrash any any potential equipment damage.

The race itself was really fun! I wish they had these more often during the year. The park blocks are a great venue to relax, eat some good food, and watch some good racing action.

rrandom rider
rrandom rider
12 years ago

It was awesome to watch. Unlike NASCAR I think most people are there to watch the actual race- not to hope for spectacular crashes. I was continually amazed by the ability of a large group of riders to turn corners at that speed in such a close pack without slamming into each other.

The only wreck I saw was when one rider bounced his pedal off the pavement leaning into a curve. He didn’t go down right away, but lost control and went headlong into one of the low temporary metal fences along the side of the course (as well as into a couple of spectators standing on the other side of the fence). Fortunately no one seemed to be injured.

I am just blown away by the skill of these riders- especially when you consider that the road was not in particularly good shape.

12 years ago

I agree, while crashes are sort of sick in a “ohhhh sh!#!! I can’t not watch!” kind of way, you could see the look of disappointment on the riders who crashed and couldn’t recover in time to re-join the race. I felt genuinely bad for them, and would have rather seen them stay up and in the race.

Seth Hosmer
12 years ago

I’ve posted a video of the race on my blog: