Insider Tips for Watching the Boise Twilight Criterium 2015

The Boise Twilight Criterium promises a great time for spectators.
The Boise Twilight Criterium promises a great time for spectators. Steve Conner Photography
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On July 11, more than 20,000 spectators are expected to descend on downtown Boise for the Boise Twilight Criterium, one of the city’s beloved summer events and one of the best criteriums on USA Cycling’s racing calendar.
 The race field includes Olympians, national champions, and European riders, who will compete for $33,000 in cash and merchandise, with equal prize amounts for the men’s and women’s pro races.

Now in its 29th year, the race started in 1987 as a local effort to create a top cycling event to attract more participants in the sport. It just kept growing, and nowadays, the crit transforms downtown Boise into a mecca of cycling action with spirited fans and the revelry of the race atmosphere, not to mention the athleticism itself, with world-class cyclists maneuvering their bikes around a tight, 1-kilometer loop at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

The main event is a timed criterium that lasts one hour plus five laps, plus preliminary races (the women’s event starts at 8 pm, while the men’s starts at 9:45 pm). Planning to attend? Here, insider tips for watching the Boise Twilight Criterium 2015, with input from race director and avid cyclist Mike Cooley of George's Cycles, one of Boise’s premier bicycle shops.

Arrive early to snag a good spot on the course.
Arrive early to snag a good spot on the course. Linda Paul

Arrive early—on two wheels if possible.

If you decide to drive, Cooley suggests parking in the garage at Bodo.
 Or avoid parking hassles altogether and bike to the event. Don’t forget a lock and take advantage of the many bike racks downtown, but consider parking your wheels out of the way to avoid having to maneuver bikes through crowds. Remember to bring bike lights for your ride home, because it will be dark after the race.

Grab a spot at Turn 1 if you can.

The course consists of a 1-kilometer rectangular loop in the center of Boise with four right-hand turns. It runs through downtown Boise, heading south on 9th Street, north on 10th Street, west on Grove Street, and east on Bannock Street. The start and finish line is located at the intersection of 9th and Main, and according to Cooley, Turn 1 is an ideal viewing spot because spectators “can view the prime laps and the finish.”

Corners are always a good spot for watching the Boise Twilight Criterium.
Corners are always a good spot for watching the Boise Twilight Criterium. Steve Conner Photography

But keep in mind that other viewing spots abound.

If the first turn is packed, there are vantage points from the parking garages in the area.
 Corners are also excellent spots to view the race as cyclists slow down to maneuver turns and there’s also the added risk of crashes. But, as Karen Sander, executive director of the Downtown Boise Association, puts it, “There is no bad spot.”

Fuel up near the finish line, or all over town.

Hungry or thirsty from all that spectating? Check out the hospitality area near the start/finish line, in the parking lot at 9th and Grove, where food and beverages will be sold. Or make a day out of exploring downtown and check out any of Boise’s diverse dining options, from brewhouses to pizza to unexpected fare like Basque cuisine at Bar Gernika, whose solomo sandwich, accompanied by a hoppy IPA, is hard to beat.

Don’t forget the water and sunscreen.

Race organizers suggest showing up at least by 6 pm, and although that’s late in the day, it still can be plenty hot. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

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