Brompton U.S. Championships 2012
On Sunday, June 10th, the U.S. Brompton Championships were held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since 2010, disciples of the famed brand of English folding bikes have gathered in Japan, the U.S. and Spain for bragging rights and the chance to win a trip to the Brompton World Championships.
The best part about the whole thing: the sound of live bagpipes mingling with the cheers of the crowd.
Okay, maybe that was the second best part. As with Brompton Championship events in other parts of the world, competitors wore jackets and ties! There were even awards for best-dressed man and best-dressed woman, with the prize of a tailored shirt from a local clothier.
This year’s main event had racers lining up about 40 yards from their bikes in a unique take on a Le Mans style start. When a signal was given, the 32 racers sprinted up to their bikes, unfolding them before setting out on six laps of a one-mile criterium style course up and down Lyndale Avenue on the South Side of Minneapolis.
A representative from Union Cycliste Internationale, the international governing body for world cycling events, looked on and made sure the course was safe and that everyone took proper precautions in the day’s 90 degree heat.
The course was used in conjunction with Open Streets Minneapolis, an initiative in its second year that closes 20 blocks in the heart of the city to vehicular traffic for six hours, opening the streets up for cycling and other car-free activities.
Calhoun Cycle, a local bike shop specializing in alternative bicycles, shouldered the organizing of this year’s event. “[We] took on the Brompton U.S. Championship with the idea that the commuter/urban style of the bike would marry best to a bike culture event rather than a race culture event,” said Luke Breen, the shop’s owner and lead organizer of the event.
The city certainly offered a fitting venue for that vision. Ranked #2 in this year’s list of most bike-friendly cities in America by Bicycling Magazine, Minneapolis boasted 23 miles of new bikeways just last year, according to the City’s website. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak even rode his bike over to the event to offer some pre-race encouragement for getting around by bike in his city.
After the race, there was a bike-folding competition in which well-dressed participants had to fold and un-fold their Bromptons as quickly as possible.
Susan Todzy of Rochester, MN and Wallace Alexander of Minneapolis won the women’s and men’s categories in the race, respectively. Both received airfare and entry to this year’s Brompton World Championships at Blenheim Palace in England.
“I’ve done a ton of bike races but never one that felt so immediate and like family,” Alexander said of the experience.
“All types were there and everybody was there to celebrate this quirky British folding bike. And immediately after the race the Open Streets started so it was really a day-long party on bikes. I felt like the King of Lyndale Avenue.”