• Women’s open street sprints: 7 p.m., 700 block of New Hampshire Street
• Men’s open street sprints: immediately following women’s, 700 block of New Hampshire Street
• Free Kid’s Zone: 7-10 p.m., East Eighth Street between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets, includes a bounce house and games
• Beer garden and live music: The Rent, 8:15-11 p.m., East Eighth Street between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets
• Kansas University Campus Circuit Race: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., begins at Sunflower Road near Jayhawk Boulevard, 3.58-mile route through campus
• Free State Brewery Downtown Criterium Races: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Ninth and Massachusetts streets
• Free Kid’s Zone: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ninth Street between Massachusetts and Vermont streets.
• Free Kids’ Bike Race Registration: 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Ninth and Massachusetts streets
• Free Kids’ Bike Race: noon, Ninth and Massachusetts streets
• Mass Street Mile: immediately following Free Kids’ Bike Race, Ninth and Massachusetts Streets
As a professional cyclist, Lawrence resident Brian Jensen has competed in races around the world. He has experienced all types of courses, including the mountainous terrain of Oregon’s Cascade Cycling Classic, the “Hell’s Kitchen” climb in Hogeye, Ark., and, more recently, a race along the Arkansas River and up “Cry Baby Hill” in Tulsa, Okla.
But this weekend, Jensen, president of TradeWind Energy Cycling Team, will take on races in his own backyard. Jensen will be among more than 700 cyclists to participate in the 5th annual Tour of Lawrence, a USA Cycling sanctioned event.
“It’s got everything. It’s a very interesting race,” Jensen said. “The races are good for somebody who likes hills one day, then someone who likes faster, flat courses on the second day. There’s something for everyone.”
Bob Sanner, sports manager for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, said every spectator will have something to do, too.
The festivities begin 7 p.m. Friday with a 200-meter dash along the 700 block of New Hampshire Street. Afterward, the section of Eighth Street between New Hampshire and Massachusetts will be the setting for a kid’s zone, beer tent and concert featuring variety dance band “The Rent.” A free kid’s bicycle race follows the pro races on Sunday, and a one-mile criterium course will be open for older youth the same day.
The views won’t be so bad, either. Sanner said the races are spectator-friendly, especially Sunday’s downtown criterium, a figure-eight shaped course that starts and ends at the corner of Ninth and Massachusetts streets.
“I can’t tell you how many people I run into who were exposed to this in year one or two and who really enjoyed themselves and keep coming back,” Sanner said. “Give us an hour of your time, and I think you’ll appreciate and enjoy what you see.”
For Saturday’s campus circuit race, a series of 3.58-mile loops, Sanner recommends watching from the corner of Naismith Drive and 15th Street, where spectators can “experience the guys flying down Naismith going 50mph.” Or, for those who would rather see cyclists struggling through a 407-foot vertical climb up Mount Oread, Sanner suggests the view from Sunflower Road.
The corner of Eighth and Massachusetts streets is a hot spot for Sunday’s race.
“You can see riders coming at you from two different angles,” Sanner said. “The finish line would also be a great place to drop an anchor and watch the racing.”
This weekend, Jensen will be able to race competitively through the town that got him started in his career as a cyclist.
“I was getting burned out on running,” said Jensen, a former Kansas University track athlete. “I saw how many people were riding bikes in the Lawrence community and thought that it looked like a lot of fun. I purchased a bike and got hooked right away.”
FreeWheels for Kids, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that gives away repaired bikes and helmets, will be collecting donated bikes during Sunday's criterium. Members will be set up outside of Sunflower Bike and Outdoor, 804 Massachusetts St.