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IU Health Momentum Indy

By: Jim Rusnak  August 22, 2022

When the Indy Crit started out in 2010, it was originally just a bike race that took place in the center of downtown Indianapolis. Since then, it has evolved into THE bike race for the city and has grown in ways founder Jennifer Cvar never could have imagined.

It is so much more than a bike race now. It has become an event known as IU Health Momentum Indy, a celebratory festival for the community that features bike races, family rides and a great fan experience in the heart of the city.

“Our goal was to bring the entire community together around this one-ness on a bike,” said Cvar, the Executive Director of IU Health Momentum Indy. “It’s not just for racers. It’s a community festival, and it just happens to have a bike race. It’s fun to see what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Cvar began racing bikes as an amateur in 2008 and competed in several criterium races across the Midwest, including the venerable Gateway Cup in St. Louis. Inspired by their experiences racing in other cities, Cvar and her teammate, Wayde Klein, wanted to start a series of races in their hometown of Indianapolis. A series proved too complicated, but the Indy Criterium was born. Traditionally held on the second Saturday of July, the race proved to be a popular event. Participation from racers, the community and volunteers exploded over the years.

The Indy Crit operated as a stand-alone race until 2019 when Cvar took over the Mass Ave Crit and added the Honor Major Taylor community ride to the docket of events. That’s when it became a two-day festival rebranded as IU Health Momentum Indy.

According to the IU Health Momentum Indy website, the event draws more than 15,000 attendees to downtown Indianapolis, many from surrounding states. Over 500 volunteers serve to make the event run smoothly, and the festival has generated over $170,000 in proceeds for local non-profits, which support youth development programs, health and wellness in the community and workforce development.

This year’s event takes place August 27 and 28. In addition to the two races and Honor Major Taylor Ride, there will also be a fun race for kids, a kids’ zone and a fan experience with food and shops along both race courses. Cvar said Momentum Indy has invested a lot in the live streaming of its races this year and in additional entertainment, including a large video wall to broadcast the races. There will also be DJs along the course, VIP hospitality, and an INSPIRE panel featuring conversations with “today’s most compelling cyclists.”

“People are really going to be surprised by the increased entertainment value and overall production of the event,” Cvar said. “It’s lightyears ahead of 2019 and 2021.”

Another added dimension to this year’s event is that the Mass Ave Crit will be the ninth of 10 stops on the American Criterium Cup, a series of races across the country that features pro riders competing for a $100,000 prize purse. “It really elevates the racing in our community because it brings in a higher level of teams,” Cvar said.

The Mass Ave Crit is unique in that the course is a triangle, rather than the standard rectangle courses in other cities. Cvar says that offers the riders something different, something a little more challenging than what they’re used to. “Mass Ave—that cultural district—is full of people,” Cvar said. “It’s a pretty area of town and shows off the city really nicely.

The Mass Ave Crit will run Saturday afternoon into the early evening of August 27, with the Indy Crit — the race that started it all — running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“They’re two really different races courses, but there’s no level of competition difference between the two,” Cvar said. “The courses touch, but they have such a different feel.”

Overall, the thing Cvar is looking forward to most this year is galvanizing the Indianapolis community around this unique and special event.

“There’s really nothing like it in our city, and it’s so much more than just a bike race,” Cvar said. “I’m excited to see the pro teams come in and really elevate our event in a new way, and I’m excited that others will be able to experience it and have something to look forward to in the future.”

For more information on IU Health Momentum Indy, including race and other event schedules, go to the event’s website at momentumindy.org.

Level Up Your Ride

This year in conjunction with the IU Health Momentum Indy race weekend, USA Cycling and Wolfpack Racing will be hosting a Level Up Your Ride clinic in Indianapolis. This clinic will teach riders about the fundamentals of bike racing! To register, click here or visit https://www.bikereg.com/level-...