It may be a little-known sporting event in Jefferson City, but the Missouri State Championship Criterium draws some 500 people to Jefferson City each year for what competitive cyclists say is the cycling equivalent of NASCAR.
The event takes place from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Sunday on a .85-mile loop around the Capitol Building.
Event Director Mike Weiss said that rather than a set number of laps, riders race for a set duration, which ranges from 40 to 65 minutes, depending on the category.
Eight categories will race for more than $2,000 in prize money. The event is sponsored by Big Shark Bicycle Company, a four-store cycling chain in St. Louis owned by Weiss.
He expects 250 riders, including 10-15 from the Jefferson City area, to participate. Another 250 family and friends of the riders typically come to Jefferson City for the event.
The race hasn't caught on as a big spectator sport in Jefferson City, but Weiss encourages people to come out and watch the races.
"Criterium racing is fun to watch and very spectator friendly," he said. "A complaint of the Tour de France is that you only can see the actual event for a brief moment.
"With criterium, you can walk around the course and see the action from different vantage points, and it's a faster, more aggressive format."
The race typically draws some professional riders who race at a national level, he said.
"If you've never seen a bike race up close, it's pretty cool," he said.
Riders can preregister online at BikeReg.com, or can register for the race up to and including on race day, he said.
For more information, visit bigshark.com/articles/2013-missouri-state-championship-criterium-pg912.htm.