BIRMINGHAM, Mich.—Birmingham is gearing up for a day of racing, music and community fellowship during the third annual Birmingham Bike Fest Sunday, Aug. 25.
The day-long event, which begins at 8 a.m., takes place in downtown Birmingham, and will feature bike races for all ages and skill levels. The festival is also hosting the 2013-2014 Michigan State Criterium Championship Race, an elite competition on a half-mile loop in the heart of the city's restaurant and shopping district. Criterium starts and finishes at Maple and Henrietta Streets. The championship winner receives a cash prize, as well as an exclusive jersey that only the winner is allowed to wear.
Two categories of junior races for kids, ages 10-19, offer opportunities for young people to start and refine their racing careers. The experience helps participants learn bike handling, how to ride with large groups, pacing, drafting and strategy.
“Last year there were approximately 4,000 spectators," says festival coordinator, Nina Tocco. "This year with the Championship we are expecting significantly more... Riders typically bring one or two family members with them and we can accommodate a maximum of 850 riders. This is just from racers, but the Shain Park vendors and entertainment area really draw the entire community out.”
Supporting a Cause
The Birmingham Bike Festival is not just about competition. The festival also works with a number of charities, including Miles 4 Alex and the Beaumont Hospital’s Children’s Miracle Network. As in previous years, there will be a Miles 4 Alex parade-style ride, honoring the memory of Alex Graham, a pediatric cancer victim. Riders of all ages will dress as superheroes for this year’s parade and the Beaumont/Rock Companies Kids’ Fair will follow afterward.
“Beaumont is partnering with us to put on a large children's fair (called the Beaumont/Rock Companies Kids Fair), which will take place on Henrietta St. adjacent to Shain Park after the Miles 4 Alex event. This fair encourages children in the community to interact with children with disabilities and to foster an understanding between them,” Tocco said.
Event organizers are hoping to make significant charitable contributions with proceeds from the Birmingham Bike Festival. According to Tocco, BBF raised and donated approximately $120,000 to Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association, Make-A-Wish, Cerebral Palsy research at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, the Wolverine Sports Club, and Detroit 2 Nepal (formerly the Miles Levin Nepal Association).
With plenty of things for racers and adults, the festival also promises entertainment for non-racers too. Tocco explained, “We want to get the entire community involved... The musical acts appeal to a wide range of individuals, from teens to older adults, and there are bike related vendors, food vendors, charity booths, clothing vendors, and more. There is still room to fill Shain Park so it is exciting to continually see the new people who sign up to participate.”
For more information on the Birmingham Bike Festival, visit birminghambikefestival.org