Competitive cyclists compete in a criterium race. Photo by Robert Mercado.

A downtown city block will close on Saturday from 4-9:30 p.m. to make way for the inaugural Bike Bash, a competitive cycling event which will continue on Sunday from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Alamo Colleges Northeast Lakeview College campus.

The block, just north of downtown from McCullough to Brooklyn avenues, and east from N. St. Mary’s Street to Avenue B, is about a .6-mile course. On Sunday, the race will take place along the perimeter roads of the college campus.

Aaron Nelson, director of Jelly and Jam Racing Company, established Bike Bash as a criterium race for “extreme hobbyists” to earn cash prizes. Criterium races are one-day bicycle races on circuit road courses. He said San Antonio has never before hosted an event like Bike Bash and is the only city “that does not have a grand (cycling) event that’s done in the urban sector.”

Bike Bash will host cyclists at all skill levels, beginning the day with novice riders and finishing in the evening with professional cyclists. Nelson encourages everyone to come out and watch the race from the sidelines. Redbull employees will hand out free energy drinks to spectators, and Freetail Brewing Company will set up a vendor booth. Guillermo’s, an Italian restaurant located steps away from the downtown race on McCullough Avenue, will host an after-party on Saturday night.

Competitive cyclists compete in a criterium race. Photo by Robert Mercado.
Competitive cyclists compete in a criterium race. Photo by Robert Mercado.

The other Bike Bash partners include Bicycle Heaven, one of the main contributors, Sunbelt RentalsDy Lynne Décor, Certified Automotive Repair Service, and Dabney Homes. Participants pay an entry fee to compete for a prize payout.

“The bulk of prize payout goes towards professional riders and it trickles down to lower categories as well,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he’s using Bike Bash as a tryout event for a state-wide race called the Texas State Criterium Championships.

“The Texas State Criterium is the Superbowl event of criterium races in Texas,” he said.

The Texas State Criterium Championship asked Nelson and his affiliates to host the race in San Antonio, but they declined the offer.

“One reason we didn’t accept (the offer) was I wanted to get a premiere event under my belt first and that’s what the Bike Bash is,” he said.

He said the state criterium race is normally held in historic areas of cities and towns.

“San Antonio downtown is perfect (for the race),” he said.

The purpose of Bike Bash is to prove to locals and the City that San Antonio can accommodate a race like the Texas State Criterium Championship.

“There is always a conflict between motorists and cyclists,” he said. But if Bike Bash goes as planned without serious traffic disruptions on Saturday, downtown San Antonio could be a future host of the statewide race.  Nelson hopes to bring the Texas State Criterium Championship to San Antonio next year, which would require a bigger, more challenging race course located downtown.

*Featured/top image: Racers round a corner while riding during a bike criterium (a short, timed route – winner makes the most laps). Photo by Robert Mercado. 

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Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....