There’s a lot to consider when planning a cycling race from scratch. Picking a course. Getting permission from the community. Finding volunteers. Publicizing the event. Hoping racers actually show up. And then, of course, there’s the weather.
So it was not a happy moment when MadCity Velo club member Chris Moreland, Race Director for the inaugural Fitchburg Fast and Furious Criterium, realized that race day was forecast to be wet and cold.
"My first concern was primarily just safety for riders in the wet conditions", said Moreland.
Similar thoughts crossed racers’ minds. Rain can make for delicate bike handling in elbow-to-elbow crits. For Master’s 4/5 race winner Chris Larson, concern over the conditions almost cost him the medal.
"Right at the end, I had a good lead. I went into the last corner and of course on the last lap I had more speed than I had on the previous laps", said Larson. "I slowed down a little bit too much. As I came out of the turn I could feel the pack breathing down my neck, getting closer and closer. I stood up and gave it all I had."
And all he had ended up being enough for the win. "I was glad to see the finish line come up when it did", said Larson. "If I had another 100 yards to go I wouldn’t have won the race."
The fact that Larson is also a member of the MadCity Velo Club made victory all the sweeter. Inspired by a desire to bring a cycling event to Fitchburg, club members wanted to leverage years of experience organizing other races in the area. And despite the fact that other cycling events in the region have exposed rocky relationships between cycling advocates and communities, Fitchburg city leaders were fully in support. “They very much partnered with us every step of the way”, said Moreland.
Giving back to the community is in keeping with the spirit of the club, which includes members of all ages and levels of experience. What makes MadCity Velo unique? “Diversity, passion for cycling, and camaraderie”, said Moreland. Larson agreed, stating, “I think it’s the friendliness and realness of members, and their commitment to each other.”