People

around the country will remember the evening in August that produced some of

the most severe weather of the year; that was also the evening of the Mass

Avenue Criterium

. The final race was cut short because of the weather, but not

before Eric Young (Bissell) rode to victory, followed closely by Kirk Albers

(Panther), Chad Burdzilauskas (Texas Roadhouse), Jon Jacob (NUVO) and Weston

Luzadder (Jamis/Sutter-Home). The Criterium keeps gaining riders, events, and

fans — and this year it ended safely, with high drama and excellent

competition.

Indianapolis

is home to Marian University and the Major Taylor Velodrome: a rare and

impressive cycling track. Marian has a history of top-notch cycling and this

year was no exception. In September, over 35 colleges and universities were

represented in the USA Collegiate Track Nationals. Marian won Division I, with

1,004 points.

Big

changes continue

for the Mayor Taylor Velodrome. Officials plan to bid for a

national-level race in 2014, and Marian University has acquired the surrounding

Lake Sullivan Sports Complex. Marian will continue to make improvements to the

track and park, including the reconstruction of the BMX park and a permanent

1.5-mile cyclocross course is in the works. Cyclocross is the off-road version

of bike racing. In fact, sometimes in Cyclocross it's impossible to even be on

a bike, and cyclists are forced to carry their bikes up stairs and steep hills.

It's riding the roughest terrain. But it's excellent conditioning for cyclists

in the off-season.

All

these exciting developments in 2011 led to USA Cycling naming Marian University

the 2011 "Collegiate Club of the Year." Additional factors (beyond the above)

included team members, including Coryn Rivera, Kaitlin Antonneau, and

Adam Leibovitz, reaching an

average GPA of 3.04 in 2011.

Major

merger

Rumors

started circulating around the cycling community in Indianapolis, and in November,

they were confirmed: The NUVO Cultural Trail Cycling team merged with the

Bissel Masters/Elite Cycling team

, to form one single USA Cycling NRC Amateur

team for 2012 and beyond. This means more attention to elite cycling in

Indianapolis, and it also means more money raised for an outstanding

organization. The team is dedicated to donating a portion of its prize money to

World Bicycle Relief, which provides bicycles to use for transportation to people

in Africa, and around the world. Transportation allows for education,

healthcare, and so many other needs that some people are fortunate enough to

take for granted.

Commuter,

casual bikes on the move

Not

everyone is competing on two wheels; Indianapolis has added quite a few

exciting opportunities for casual and recreation riders, too. Extensive work

has been done this year to reach 64 miles of cycling lanes in the city; by

2015, Rebuildindy funds will enable the city to add 75 more miles of trails and

bike lanes. Although the additional lanes have confused some drivers, overall,

the city is beginning to slow down and realize that cyclists own the streets

just as much as cars do.

After

a lot of stalling and even more headaches, the Cultural Trail through Fountain

Square is nearly completed; it's just begging Indianapolis patrons to bundle up

and visit their favorite shops and restaurants over the holidays.

The

Indy Parks board recently voted to allow cyclists and pedestrians to expand the

hours of usage for the Monon Trail. Now the trail is open and patrolled from 5 a.m.

to 9 p.m. Already, those who have been monitoring the trail have found that

quite a few people use the trail during the early morning hours and to commute

to and from work. The bike advocacy group INDYCOG presented the board with

1,100 petitions in order to extend the hours; they're still working with the

city in an effort to have the trail opened and patrolled 24 hours, and

eventually for lighting on the trail.

According

to their website, INDYCOG started as a

blog in early 2009; in 2010, they expanded to working as a bicycle education

and advocacy group. They now have well over 100 members and have sponsored a

number of events, from the Mass Ave. Criterium to the 2 Wheels 1 City

celebration, which raised nearly $1,000 for Free Wheelin' Community Bikes. In

November, they also received recognition as a non-profit organization.

Even

the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is hitting the streets on two

wheels: The Central Indiana Bicycling Association Foundation and the Bicycle

Garage Indy

donated five new mountain bikes in conjunction with the opening of

the Indy Bike Hub YMCA. Not only does this promote a healthy environment, bikes

actually enable police officers to better patrol certain areas.

Bike

hubs, bike ports

The

grand opening of the Indy Bike Hub came right at the middle of September,

complete with a ribbon cutting by Mayor Greg Ballard and all kinds of incentives

to join. The Hub has already added several new exercise classes and courses to

promote safety. The Bike Hub hopes to provide a place for people to stay fit

year-round.

According

to Karin Ogden, executive director of the downtown YMCA (Athenaeum and Bike

Hub), the City Market "continues to evolve into a thriving local community."

Ogden said that people can look forward to more organized rides from the Hub

from week to week, and that the City Market, Bicycle Garage Indy, Bicycle

Indiana, and IndyCog have, "lots of great synergy."

One

thing that Ogden said people might not realize is that the Bike Hub is much

like the other YMCA facilities. "I tell people to imagine their favorite

neighborhood Y, with a bike twist." In addition to the bike shop and storage,

the Hub offers all kinds of cardiovascular and strength equipment, and several

fitness classes — perfect for the winter months.

Like

the Bike Hub YMCA, The National Institute of Fitness and Sport (NIFS), in

partnership with the White River State Park, offers cyclist access to its

BikePort. People can park their bikes with access to the IndyGo Red Line to

Downtown Indy. NIFS also offers bicycle commuter memberships.

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