Laidback bike race returns to downtown Salida

The feeling of summer seems to have finally made its appearance with sunshine-speckled mountains and river-season excitement, culminating in Salida’s renowned FIBArk festival. As America’s oldest whitewater fest, it has become a weekend of anticipation that both locals and visitors mark on the calendar each year. In preparation for the big event, the infamous Cruiser Crit fundraiser is back by popular demand thanks to two local women who have been long-time fans of the raucous occasion and wanted to bring back the family-friendly affair for their kids to enjoy.

Lindsay Sutton and Lisa Ledwith, both local business owners and long-time residents of Salida, have been a part of the event in the past and knew the costumed bike race through downtown had to make a comeback for an unforgettable kick-off to summer and a great way to raise proceeds for FIBArk.

Cruiser Crit is set for Saturday, May 19, with registration opening at 11 a.m. for all races. The strider races begin at noon, with kids’ races at 12:30, the burley-chariot-trailer course at 1 p.m., Classic Crit at 1:30 p.m. and the competitive race at 2 p.m. All races encourage participants to don costumes with originality and flare and get the entire family involved. Kids’ participation is by donation and adult registration is $15.

“Cruiser Crit is a beloved locals event that, unfortunately, lost steam about three years ago. It is more comical than competitive, and we have had unbelievable local support for this resurrection. The silent auction is stacked with everything from bikes, bags and food to art,” said Sutton.

The after-party will take place at Benson’s Tavern and Beer Garden beginning at 3 p.m. and showcase a silent auction as well as a live performance by Denver band At the Watertower. The auction will remain open until 5:30 p.m. and feature prizes from local sponsors, including a bicycle from Subculture Cyclery. Other event sponsors are Salida Bike Company, The Palace Hotel, Kaleidoscope Toys, Fun Street Family Arcade and Little Red Tricycle.

Because this year is the celebration of FIBArk’s 70th anniversary, Sutton and Ledwith knew they wanted to tie that into the costume theme for Critter Crit. Sutton’s fondest memories of outrageous costumes include Fred Maxwell’s luchadores ensemble riding in on a giant red bike as well as Ledwith’s great bee costume paired with a bike completely covered in real lilacs.

“We kept tossing around a lot of ideas for Crit costume themes for our crew this year. With it being the 70th anniversary, there were a couple of different ways to go, and we knew we had to commemorate such a historic anniversary,” said Sutton. “Finally, I said to Lisa, ‘What if we dressed up like a bunch of badass 70-year-olds?!’ First came the costume concept, and then came the poster.”

Sutton is a local artist and owner of Sutty’s Downtown Records and Arts. She and her husband have been involved with FIBArk for many years and are curating the vendor market for this year’s weekend. She has also been the poster artist for FIBArk’s 65th anniversary, the 2009 Cruiser Crit and this year’s eye-catching Cruiser Crit poster. She and Ledwith are both excited to prepare for the shenanigans and have the entertaining bike escapades back in action to showcase a taste of what makes this community so unique.

“I am looking forward to celebrating with my family, friends who love the Crit, and friends who will be participating for the first time. I secretly hope to get the silent auction bike too.”