GOSHEN — Bicycles claimed Goshen’s downtown Friday with competitive cyclists circling a piece of the Maple City at 25 miles per hour or more.
More than 150 cyclists looped downtown Goshen, taking Washington Street to Main Street to Jefferson Street to 7th Street, in the second annual I Love Goshen Bicycle Criterium. The bike race was a main event at the city’s May First Fridays.
In the criterium, bikers lapped the course for 30, 45 or 60 minutes, depending on the division. As bikers gained distance from one another, officials asked those lagging significantly behind the core group to exit the course.
Fred Buckingham of Elkhart used to bike race, including criteriums, and came out to see the Goshen race.
“I still ride, I just don’t do these,” he said.
Though no longer in races himself, he cheered for a few cyclists he knew and closely eyed riders as they passed by where he stood.
“You’re looking for the dynamics of the race,” he said. When they’re in a pack all together, they aren’t going as fast, he described. It’s when a cyclist breaks away that the rider gains speed. That’s part of what he looks for as a spectator, he said.
For Terry Hussey, who teaches eighth-grade math at Goshen Middle School, the criterium wasn’t about speed or winning, but more about fun.
Hussey said she and friend Molly Kauffman regularly bike in the area for fun and exercise. Kauffman suggested they try the criterium.
Hussey said before starting in the beginner’s-level race that she was intimidated by the number of professional bikers competing and was anxious about the turns, but said she hoped she would finish without being pulled out of the race or falling down.
“It’s always good to do something new in life,” she said with a chuckle before taking off in her first criterium.
Though a ways behind the leading group of bikers, Hussey did cross the finish line.
Minutes after, she said she would compete in next year’s criterium, too. “I’m going to practice the turns, though,” she said.
The beginner’s-level race was a good place to start, she said, and the cheers she heard as she circled helped her go on.
“The people in the crowds were really nice,” she said.
May’s First Fridays also included a “Taste of Goshen: Celebrating Diversity” food tent, with food from Ukraine, Palestine, El Salvador and other countries, put on by a partnership between First Fridays and the Community Relations Commission.
This was also the second month that “ambassadors” walked downtown sidewalks looking to minimize crowding and potential issues with youths.
Richard Aguirre was one of five people who helped organize about 30 volunteers to help monitor young people at the event after the community and Goshen City Council began to discuss issues coming from groups of youths at First Fridays.
As First Fridays neared its close, Aguirre said he didn’t know of any significant youth issues, which he credited to the increased help.
There were pockets of youth here and there, he said, but overall “people seem to be having a lot of fun.”