What is a Criterium?

September 24, 2014

As mentioned in last Friday’s post, Coeur d’Alene is hosting its first criterium this Friday as part of the big Oktoberfest celebration. To be honest, this is the first time I’d heard of such a thing, so I reached out to Jenni Gaertner, with Vertical Earth, to learn more about this unique event they’re calling Crit Fest.


A criterium is a timed, closed-circuit road race. This particular crit (as the cool kids call it) will feature four races divided into USAC categories. Crits are usually pretty intense and fast paced. The winner is the first person to cross the finish line after the time is up (in this case, after 40 minutes). I’m guessing it’s not something I’d want to do on my single-speed beach cruiser – insert cute bike bell noise here.

“This is a great family-friendly event,” Jenni said. “The lower categories are generally less intense and we’re offering a kids ride and open rally ride that anyone can participate in.”

That sounds more like something I could manage on my cruiser.

Jenni’s husband, Mike (owner of Vertical Earth), has been trying to get something like Crit Fest started for about 10 years. Luckily, everything worked in their favor and the Downtown Association decided it would be great to include in this weekend’s festivities.

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Although many racers may train for crits, Jenni and her team are just hoping for a good turn-out this year. Racers should have a road bike and helmet, and can expect variable speeds and intensities throughout each race.

“There will be times where you’re just cruising with the pack, but then other times when you’re having to sprint around corners to get ahead,” she said. “Boise hosts the Boise Twilight Crit and they get close to 10,000 people. I hope we can build enough interest and support to get there some day.”

On Saturday after Crit Fest, the “Bike Fest” continues with the third annual Coeur d’Fondo – a scenic challenge around the lake. Riders have a choice between five distances, ranging from a Family Fondo (15 miles) all the way up to the Gran Fondo (108 miles).


Of course, both events are accompanied by the Downtown Association’s Oktoberfest where participants can wander from business to business downtown sampling beer and listening to live performances. Times for this year’s Oktoberfest are:

  • Friday, September 26 from 4 – 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 27 from 1 – 8 p.m.

A big thanks goes out to Jenni for answering my questions! I hope to see everyone downtown at our first ever Crit Fest.

For those that aren’t interested in this weekend’s downtown Oktoberfest, I’ll have a full Oktoberfest schedule for you in Friday’s This Weekend North Idaho.


More about Andy

I'm a north-Idahoan, a WSU grad, local writer, content marketing specialist and photographer with a passion for where I live. I love the outdoors, animals, good food, wine, and time spent with my husband, family and friends.

    1. […] Crit Fest was amazing! It was high-intensity, the weather was great and it opened our eyes to something completely different. Kyle is seriously wanting to join the Vertical Earth race team. I tried to get some good pics for you, but it was SO dark! So thanks to my good pal Jimmy (you may or may not remember him from softball) reminded me that I could get some trippy photos by opening up my shutter. Kyle thought this was pretty cool, and he literally took my camera and ran with it for the rest of the night. He got some fun stuff though. […]

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