Campus bike race raises $3,500 for Camp Heartland

Stacy Reis

The second annual Campus Criterium Bike Race attracted 300 bikers Sunday to the University’s East Bank.
The event helped raise nearly $3,500 for Camp Heartland, a camping and outreach program for kids affected with HIV or AIDS.
The University and its students have a tradition of donating to Camp Heartland because they believe in the organization’s mission, said event coordinator David LaPorte, a University biochemistry professor.
“If you look up wonderful organizations in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Camp Heartland,” LaPorte said.
The daylong event was open to riders of all skill levels and featured several races, including a tandem race, a recumbent race and a kids’ fun race.
Riders competed for the Minnesota State Criterium Championship, and winners in each division received medals and gift certificates from sponsor Freewheel Bike, a cycling store located just off the West Bank campus.
The decision to award gift certificates rather than cash was made in an effort to allocate more money for donation to Camp Heartland, said LaPorte.
Steve Hiebert, a volunteer and member of the Gopher Wheelmen, a cycling team, described the criterium as fun and exciting to watch.
“(Criteriums) are put together with spectators in mind,” said Hiebert.
Unlike typical road races, a criterium usually takes place on a closed course and racers make numerous laps through a short course.
Other free events went on while races took place. Nationally ranked professional rider Aaron Lutze demonstrated his skills for spectators, and the University’s Physical Therapy Program offered a Health and Fitness Fair.
The University Police, another race sponsor, demonstrated bike safety for spectators. The Department of Recreational Sports provided information about University clubs and activities.
The University of Minnesota Cycling Team was on hand to help set up the course, assist with events throughout the day and provide information about their team.
Overall, LaPorte said he was pleased with the turnout. Although he said bike races run rain or shine, he was very happy with Sunday’s sunny weather.
In the Campus Criterium’s second year of existence, LaPorte said he hopes to build a sponsorship base and develop student awareness of the event. His number one goal is to get students involved and to educate people about bike racing.
“This is a University event, and the University is students,” said LaPorte. “It takes awhile before everyone knows about (the event).”

Stacy Reis welcomes comments at [email protected]