Bike race coming to Thibodaux this Sunday

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Bikes will be cruising Thibodaux’s streets this weekend – their speeds sometimes exceeding 35 mph.

The Bayou Country Cyclists and its Green Team will be hosting a pair of races this weekend in Louisiana – the latter of which will roll through Lafourche Parish’s biggest city.

The first race is going to be a Four Man Team Time Trial Championship on Saturday in Vacherie.

The second will be the Alan Kelly Criterium presented by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at TGMC. That event will roll through the streets of downtown Thibodaux on Sunday.

Event organizer and Bayou Country Cyclist Matt Trahan said the Thibodaux race will be very family friendly and fun to watch.

“It’s going to be an exciting day,” Trahan said. “The race is entertaining, and we will have a lot of food and entertainment to keep people happy. We think this is going to be a very nice event for people to come out and be a part of.”

Saturday’s race will be held to crown a Louisiana State Champion.

Trahan said the format of that race will be similar to the Tour de France – which is a race against a clock.

In this format, he said teams of four people will compete individually on the bike for 36 miles.

“We’ll have some racers going 28, 29 or 30 miles per hour,” Trahan said. “Some of these guys in this thing are really, really fast.”

From there, Trahan said the team with the best time will take home the title – and the honor of being Louisiana’s best.

“If you win, you get medals and the bragging rights of being able to tell people that you’re the new state champion,” Trahan said.

But Sunday’s race in Thibodaux is a little bit friendlier to the audience, according to Trahan.

That’s because the local race is a criterium, which is a completely different format and style of race than a team trial.

In a team trial, racers usually ride a straight-line course. That means that the race route is similar to a Mardi Gras parade – you see it pass once and then it’s over.

But in a criterium, the setup is different. In this type of race, the cyclists compete in a NASCAR-type track which takes bikers into a circular shape – which in this race will swoop in and out of the streets of downtown Thibodaux.

This means that if attending the race, you will see the cyclists pass every few minutes.

There will be seven different races throughout Sunday – all based on the rider’s experience levels.

The elite cyclists will put on quite a show.

“You’re going to be averaging probably about 25 miles per hour going through these turns, and in a criterium, it’s all about making and logging laps,” Trahan said. “These races are high speed and when you get into the final sprint, you’re talking about riders getting up to 38, 39 or even 40 miles an hour on these bikes.”

“It’s really pretty awesome to see and it’s a very audience friendly race.”

The process of deciding the winner in a criterium is unique and worth noting.

Trahan said the race is timed and will last 45 minutes.

From there, officials will be on hand to track times and monitor how fast on average riders are making laps.

After doing all of their calculations, somewhere toward the end of the 45-minute time interval, riders will be informed exactly how many laps are left in the race.

“That’s when you see things begin to heat up,” Trahan said.

Also worth noting is the “race within the race” that will occur at the Thibodaux event.

Some of the categories in the race will be eligible to win prize money – the event has a $2,000 purse.

But prizes will also be given throughout the Alan Kelly Criterium to spice things up a bit.

For example, Trahan said riders will randomly be informed during the race that a certain prize is now up for grabs in the middle of the race – to be given to the first racer to cross a specified mark or line.

The prizes are usually bike accessories or relating to cycling.

But they liven up the race, while also presenting mental challenges to riders.

“It’s the race within the race,” Trahan said. “If it’s a prize someone really wants, you’ll see them speed up and change their approach to try and get it.”

Attendance to this Sunday’s ride in Thibodaux will be free to anyone who wishes to attend.

Trahan said jambalaya will be sold for a good cause – to aid the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

He said that there will also be live music for those who attend.

“This is something that is a lot of fun,” Trahan said. “It’s family oriented. We are just trying to bring this kind of thing back to Thibodaux. We held a race like this in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, and I remember when I used to race back then, I did it and I just fell in love with it. We aim to bring it back.”

A rider makes a turn while trying to stay in front of the competition during a race in Thibodaux last year. The Alan Kelly Criterium presented by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at TGMC will roll through Thibodaux on Sunday. Event organizers say the event is made possible by its 15 sponsors.