High speed bike racing is coming to Uptown New Westminster

The B.C. provincial criterium championships are scheduled for the Royal City on May 28. The Hyack Festival Grand Prix will be held in conjunction with the annual Hyack Festival parade.

And while a course has yet to be finalized, David Brett, the race organizer, said the event will add to the excitement in Uptown on parade day.

“This will be one more reason for people to head Uptown, camp out for a few hours and take in a high-level sporting event,” said Brett.

A criterium is a high-speed competition in which riders circumnavigate a closed course one to two kilometre long dozens of times. The provincials will consist of races for juniors, senior men and women, as well as masters.

On January 18, New West council gave conditional approval for a 2016 festival grant of $16,800 in cash and city services to help stage the race. Brett said that’s one major hurdle cleared.

In the next couple of weeks residents and businesses along two proposed routes will be polled for their support. Once that’s achieved, the organizers will work with the city to determine the best route and what it will require to ensure the safety of racers and spectators.

Brett said Uptown is an ideal venue for such a race because it’s relatively flat and compact. He said the Uptown Business Association is on board and will work with its members to take advantage of the crowds that will be in the area for the parade and the bike races.

“This event will encourage parade goers to stay Uptown,” said Brett.

It’s not the first time the Hyack Festival Association has been involved with bike racing. A similar criterium race through Queen’s Park was a part of festival week during the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s.

Brett, an avid recreational cyclist himself, said the time is right to bring a road bike race back to the city.

“It brings a whole new demographic,” said Brett. “The city can leverage that crowd. It will be a marquee event for the city.”

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Hyack Festival Grand Prix, as a sponsor or volunteer, can contact the Hyack Festival Association office at events@hyack.bc.ca or 604-522-6894

Photo courtesy of Mario Bartel.