Velodrome bicycle racing is often colloquially referred to as "NASCAR on two wheels." When riders crash though, it tends to resemble more a demolition derby. The sport has highly conditioned athletes wearing colorful spandex and aerodynamically sculpted helmets and glasses piloting lightweight bikes with a single fixed gear (meaning the pedals move with the back wheel, so riders can't stop pedaling and coast) and no brakes, scorching past each other on a racing oval with a track banked at more than 40 degrees. Needless to say, this makes for thrilling and dangerous racing. The Great River Energy Bicycle Festival's Fixed Gear Classic will exhibit a full range of tension-wrought velodrome competition with male and female riders. Races include the Miss and Out Race in which the last rider to cross the finish line at the end of each lap is eliminated until it's down to the final two racers, the Keirin Race during which a motorcycle paces the racers for the first five and a half laps before pulling off as the riders sprint for the finish line, and the Chariot Race, a two-lap contest between two racers. The Fixed Gear Classic's extreme racing will also be a nice introduction to the ten velodrome events going down at the Beijing Olympics this summer. If breakneck racing isn't your bag, on Tuesday the Great River Energy Bike Festival is hosting a women's cycling summit. A panel will discuss women's professional biking, and Jim Miller, director of endurance training for USA Cycling, will give a keynote address. Go to www.minnbikefestival.com for more information.
Sat., June 7, 6-9 p.m.; Sun., June 8, 1-4 p.m., 2008