Boise Festivals and Events

Boise Twilight Criterium - A Year's Worth of Spandex in One Night

The Twilight Criterium is a Boise event that must be experienced firsthand. Even if you don't like bikes and you don't like racing, you'll probably like the Criterium. Trust your pal Crandal on this one; I wouldn't lead you astray.

For one gloriously perfect summer evening every year, thousands of people from the wine-and-cheese crowd flood Downtown Boise with their folding chairs, Radio Flyers, and expensive cameras so they can see bike racing at its best. It's like a yuppie version of the Nascar Go-Left Circuit, with enough street people and accidental spectators mixed in to keep the place from turning into Aspen.

The Boise Twilight Criterium is so popular, in fact, that people end up lining the entire course on both sides of the street, cheering the racers along and admiring their rippling well-toned thighs. By the time the fury of the men's pro race hits the pavement, the spectators are lined up four or more deep on the corners or other choice spots, so getting a good view and taking photos, which you will feel compelled to do, can get difficult. It becomes even more difficult as the sun drops low and the portable lighting along the race route takes over.

The fun starts in the early afternoon when kids get a chance to ride with Olympic cyclist Kristen Armstrong. A series of amateur races starts at 2:45pm, followed by the women's pro race at 7pm. Over the course of the evening, the crowd grows, the sidewalks fill up, and the speed and intensity of the races consistently build. Don't wait too long to take a tour of the course and scope out the best spot for the men's pro race, which starts at 8:15. Corners are preferable. The course is an imperfect rectangle that uses 9th, Grove, 10th, and Bannock Streets. The 9th and Grove corner (Chandler's Steakhouse and its outdoor patio) puts a little wiggle in the route.

When the men's pro race starts, the atmosphere is buzzing. The small clickers that the race sponsors usually pass out, combined with a rather insane quantity of cowbells, will make you think you're at an Olympic event. That and the quality of the racing, of course. The speed of the men's pro race is blurring. Averaging roughly 30mph for the entire 90-minute race, a lap takes about a minute and six seconds. I timed it myself, so if you doubt that figure you're calling me a liar. The racers go by so often, in fact, that it's almost impossible for kids to get bored. Imagine that.

Don't miss this event. If you do and you don't have a good excuse, your pal Crandal is going to get his paddle, and we all know how that will turn out.

Event: Twilight Criterium
Where: Downtown Boise
When: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Cost: Free
Website: Boise Twilight Criterium
Why I love it: The atmosphere is unlike any other Boise event. It's Boise's version of the Kentucky Derby, minus the disgusting mint juleps and the funny hats.