The Natural State Criterium Series comprises three days of road bike races in Downtown Bentonville, Downtown Rogers, and Downtown Springdale in Northwest Arkansas on the first weekend of July.
Who produces the Natural State Criterium Series?
The Natural State Criterium Series is produced by BikeNWA, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to making Northwest Arkansas more bike-friendly, with the help of tireless volunteers and generous sponsors.
What is a criterium race (aka "crit")?
A criterium, or "crit," is a road bike race consisting of laps around a closed on-road circuit. The length of each lap or circuit ranges from about 6/10ths to just over 1 mile.
Race length is determined by total time, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses.
Generally the event's duration (commonly one hour) is shorter than that of a traditional road race, which can last many hours (sometimes over the course of several days or even weeks, as in a Grand Tour.). However, the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been "lapped."
In addition to offering cash "payouts" to the overall top 10 or 12 winners of each race, events often have cash prizes called "primes" (pronounced "preems") for winning specific intermediate laps (for instance, every 10th lap). A bell is usually rung to announce to the riders that whoever wins the next lap, wins the prime.
Success in road criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills—in particular, the ability to corner smoothly while holding the line on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply—and the ability to ride safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional "sprint" ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.
Why put on the Natural State Criterium Series?
By holding a national caliber road cycling event in our Northwest Arkansas's picturesque historic downtowns, we expose people to bike racing who may not be familiar with professional and amateur cycling. Our goal is to provide residents and visitors with a world-class (and free) event that is fun for people of all ages, regardless of whether they own a bike.
We hope that this race series inspires people of all ages to get out and ride a bike. We hope that at least one child who watches a race walks away thinking that they would like to race a bike someday and let them know that there are more options beyond football and basketball.
Last but not least, we want to raise awareness about BikeNWA's work to make Northwest Arkansas more bike-friendly for people of all ages and abilities.