to shopkeepers, the Mass Ave Criterium is different than most events that
happen on that trendy avenue. Mass Ave's hip reputation is impossible for event
planners of all kinds to resist, and they swoop down onto the Ave like culture
vultures, seizing anything that looks like a choice bit of fresh indie flavor.
are a lot of events on Mass Ave," says Kay Feeney-Caito of Mass Ave Toys. "But
this one is done with us in mind."
owners describe the Criterium as "great," "really fun," "exciting," "dynamic,
"colorful." For years, support from shop owners has been crucial in
managing the various organizational headaches such an event entails.
year, NUVO and our partners focused on creating an experience as
environmentally sustainable as it is enjoyable. Thanks to Onesource Water,
on-site water stations with their own filtration systems will be installed,
with Mass Ave Criterium refillable water bottles being sold for $2,
significantly reducing waste generated during the race.
the theme of energy awareness, Bicycle Garage Indy will offer a stationary
bicycling station with electronic trackers that calculate how much energy
riders generate. Nine13sports, a health organization focused on combating youth
obesity through cycling and a new partner this year, will set up a similar
station with racing simulators for spectator participation.
those who prefer bicycles that actually move, Pedal & Park will be
stationed in the shade at Barton Towers, offering free bike repairs for those
spectators who cruise by, looking for relief from the hot weather.
all ages event
can participate in a junior race that's shorter than the adult races, but just
as competitive. For younger kids, there will be a rodeo, lessons about bike
riding basics and safety tips from Flanner & Buchanan, complete with
obstacle courses and goodie bags. There will be a chance to design your own
lemonade, pretzels and New Belgium beer.
a day of bike races isn't enough, the cycling will continue into the night at
another of the year's new a events: a post-race screening of Breaking Away in the New Belgium Beer
Garden in Davlan Park, open to all ages.
support it," David Andrichik, owner of the Chatterbox Jazz Club and longtime
cycling fan says of the shifting nature of the Criterium. "The bigger and
better the race, the better the racing."
opens the Chatterbox to customers whenever the race begins, which, last year,
meant they started lining up at 7:30 am. With good reason, says Elizabeth
Garber, founder of Best Chocolate in Town: "David has the best view on the
Andrichik, Garber doesn't know much about the technicalities of the sport: the
exact angle of the turns, the balance needed to corner smoothly. For her, the
fun is off the course. "Last year, I played!" she remembers. "I drank mimosas,
cheered, and handed out trophies."
spectators, who, like Garber, turn up to watch a blur of colorful jerseys speed
by and drink good beer are what excites shop owners the most about the
draws a great crowd," says Kristen Kohn, owner of Silver in the City, a feeling
Garber echoes: "It's not your usual group of people."
agrees, gushing about both organizers and spectators. "They're real
salt-of-the-earth type people," she says. "NUVO readers are the best because
they're involved people who are interested in being a part of anything that
supports their own town." (Editors note: While initially we considered removing
the above Feeney-Caito remark, we decided to keep it, but only after thoroughly
vetting it for its objective truth.)
Criterium involves street closings and other infrastructural adjustments that
— at first —alarmed shop owners. Garber, who admits to some initial
worry about interference with the avenue's comerce, says that she soon
discovered that, in the long run, "for every day your sales are down, there's
another day when they're up."
depends on perspective," she adds. "It's about experience and actually being in
a space, figuring out what are the true concerns versus perceived concerns."
Boutique's new location on the 400 block of Mass Ave means owner Jessica Hamm
will have a new experience of the race this year, though she hasn't exactly
been separated from past races.
year my boyfriend and I almost ruined a race," she recalls, laughing. "We were
carrying boxes and all of a sudden the bikers were riding by, blowing whistles
and yelling. Luckily, we got out of the way just in time."
Stockamp, president of the Athenaeum Foundation, has been involved since the
race's first year. She's had only pleasant partnerships with organizers in
years past, though her fondest memory might be meeting a "dear, dear friend" at
the inaugural Criterium in 2008. They remain close to this day and plan to ride
bikes down to this year's race together.
stories are testaments to the race's grassroots feel. As Garber explains, "When
you're in an urban environment, you have to embrace what happens in that
— pardon the pun — a two-way street. Without community events,
there would be no community. Without a community, there would be no community
events. And then there would be no accidental friendships, no close calls with
race-ruining, no stories of the uninvolved stumbling into the center of the
action, of the skeptical finding themselves caught up in a rush of cycles,
riders, and spokes. That's the thing about this event: it sweeps people away.
ultimate prize of the race is more than some chocolate or even a cash reward.
It's joining in, whether by riding or watching, and since it happens right on
the avenue where so much eating and drinking and sweating and living happens,
it's impossible to ignore.
that anyone would want to. "It really feels like it's from us, for us,"