Buffalo bike culture has certainly had its ups and downs. We’ve had success stories in the form of city bike racks and designated paths, and at the same time we’ve seen setbacks in the form of forgotten bike lanes on Main Street and lack of a champion for the Peddling Museum. Thankfully we have a healthy fixed gear community, a bike cooperative, Sunday BMX, Midnight Madness, great shops, Critical Mass… and an important cycling history that has substantially contributed to the growth of the industry. Bike culture is growing all over the world. Buffalo was a big bike town at one point… thankfully there are a lot of people who want to see us get back to our cycling roots.
This summer, cycling fans can look forward to a herculean effort to get Buffalo back on the map when it comes to racing. Meet enthusiast Frank Grillo (SA Cycling Level 2 Coach, Certified Skills Instructor, Secretary Buffalo Bicycling Club) – born and raised on the West Side of Buffalo, (and very proud of it). Frank grew up on Auburn and Richmond and attended Buffalo public schools – both grammar and high school. Now Frank is leading the two-wheel charge by creating a crit racing series, called Cobblestone Criterium Twilight Series, that will take place WEEKLY near the Inner Harbor. This is big, BIG news. Eech Thursday evening, licensed cyclists will come together to partake in a street circuit. I saw one of these races take place a coupe years back, not far from where these upcoming races will be held. The spectacle changed my outlook of cycling forever. A hearty “Thank you” to The City for allowing this series to move forward! From Frank:
“I purposely picked a race series that would be held in the city. It’s in the Cobblestone District, but without the cobbles. We’re going to be racing every Thursday in June (except for the 25th – that race will be held on July 2nd due to an HSBC event). Then, we’re hoping to get four more dates in August. They basically gave us the first four events – if the first four go well, then they’ll commit to the second four. My goal is to do a good enough job on the first four to get the second four. I know that the Cobblestone District is gonna grow – I want the series to grow with it. I threw it out there and wasn’t sure if the City would go for it. I figured, what can I lose?
“I want this for the city. I want to appeal to the city people – especially the kids. They are the racers of tomorrow. We were looking to find a way to appeal to the young people. What better way to appeal to young people than hosting a crit race in the city? We want families to bring their kids. There will be an ‘A’ race and a ‘B’ race – in-between those races, we’ll be holding a citizen’s race and a kid’s race. One of our goals is to get this to the point of critical mass. Criterium racing is a staple of United States racing. It’s more popular here than in Europe. Crit races are held on a short track with high speeds (sprinting at 35-40 miles an hour)… very spectator friendly. We’ll have cyclists from Canada, Pennsylvania, Jamestown and Rochester – we’re close to the boarder, which means that there’s potential to be very big.
“Our club exists to promote bicycle racing. All club races, called training races, are through USA Cycling. We are also required to put on a number of bigger races every year. Racers score points for their permits in order to get upgraded to another level. Next year this will hopefully be a nationally sanctioned event – a USCF event. Anybody that wants to come down and race is welcome. If they don’t have a USA Cycling license, we will sell one-day licenses for five bucks (proper equipment is required). It’s a dangerous game out there – amateurs are welcome, but it’s suggested that they hang out in the back. That’s what makes our club unique – we’re here to promote cycling. We’re not elitists. Cycling is a good clean sport that people can do for the rest of their lives.”
Click here for more info on the Cobblestone Criterium Twilight Series.