Until last year's
Southside Sprint Bicycle Race
, the area surrounding 48th and Chicago in South Minneapolis hadn't seen an elite bicycle race since the 1980s.
More than 200 racers, plus at least 500 spectators, showed up for the event last year.
This week, the race is returning the neighborhood. The July 22 event includes eight races that invite riders of all ages and abilities, including the region's top bicyclists, along with a family fun festival and a separate, free children's race and a movie screening.
The South Chicago Avenue Business Alliance
and Nomad Marketing
have teamed up to put on the event, according to Jason Lardy, one of the event’s organizers.
Lardy and his business partner, Andrew Dahl, also help plan another annual event: the high-profile Nature Valley Bicycle Festival
When it comes to the Southside Sprint, “Certainly one of our goals is to put on a fantastic race for racers and spectators,” he says. “We’re also trying to draw attention to this fantastic neighborhood in South Minneapolis.”
Lardy also lives in the neighborhood. “It’s gone from a sleepy, not-so-exciting part of town to a vibrant, diverse retail environment,” he says.
“We’re making the race really accessible for new riders,” he says, adding that a beginner race clinic will help people work on skills.
He and Dahl hope to repeat the race every year. “We’ve gotten good feedback from riders and the neighborhood,” he says. “It’s one of the biggest events in the neighborhood all year long.” It’s also a good opportunity to expose new people to the area, he says.
Too often, bike races happen in areas “where it’s not very spectator-friendly,” which is why the pair sought a festival atmosphere. “We’re in this for the love of racing as a culture and community,” he says.
Source: Jason Lardy, organizer, Southside Sprint Bicycle Race
Writer: Anna Pratt