Cyclists set for summer times
After 18 seasons of staging and directing the popular Memorial Park Summer Criteriums, Hans Schneider is stepping down from an active role in the event. But with or without Scheider, the races will go on.
A criterium is a bicycle race taking place over a fixed course. The Memorial Park course is a 1.15 mile route in the Memorial Park Picnic Loop. Taking over for Schneider is Greg Bauer.
"I had kind of a nasty (bicycle) crash this year, and along with some other things I need to focus my attention on, I decided to step down," said Schneider. "Sun and Ski is still the sponsor, same start time, all that kind of stuff."
The Memorial Park Criteriums will be held every Wednesday evening through Aug. 31, starting at 5:30 p.m. Registration opens at 5 p.m. Bauer has assisted Schneider in staging the criteriums for years, helping in the pre-race registration on Wednesday evenings, as well as racing in the events.
"I wanted to make sure it (criteriums) went to somebody who would continue what I felt was the right formula, not turning it into a big circus or getting too serious," added Schneider.
Bauer learned cycling from Schneider.
"He got me into cycling when I went to school at Sam Houston State University. It's a hobby that has turned into a passion," said Bauer.
Bauer explains that there is a diverse amount of cycling talent participating in the Memorial Criteriums.
"We encourage people who have never raced before to come out and give it a try. You have some riders who come out and treat it like a serious race. Others come out who treat it as a training race, try things they would normally not do in a big race," Bauer said.
Last year's weekly criteriums drew anywhere from 40-60 riders in the Category 4/5 division, Cat 3/4 had about 50-70 riders and the last race, Cat 1/2/3, drew 40-50 riders. Cat 1/2/3 are the most experienced riders.
"We probably had at least 100 spectators every Wednesday evening," said Bauer. "The youngest riders was anywhere from 16 up; we had some riders in their 50s, very diverse."
Once of the innovations Schneider introduced was a women's-only race.
"I think it went real well, real positive feedback from the women and from the sidelines," said Schneider. "It's one of those things I think is going to grow; I want that for the women. At the beginning when I started the races I went around to a lot of the women racers and talked to them about a separate women's race. It was kind of unanimous that they did not want one. There weren't enough women who would register for the women-only race. They would rather race with the guys and have real races.
"Over the years it got to the point where there were enough women racing and they kind of fell in between the beginning and experienced riders. They were more experienced to be in the beginner race, but they weren't strong enough to be in the fastest race."
Two years ago, as an experiment, one women's race was run, which went over very well. Last year a couple of women only races were on the race schedule. This year there are four separate women's races.
"It's a tough sport," continued Schneider. "There are not enough women in the sport. There aren't enough places for them to race. Offering the separate women's races and see it work, I am real excited about that."
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