Downtown Winfield is in store for some high-speed traffic this weekend.
Bike traffic, that is.
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What: Winfield Criterium Weekend
When: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13-14
Where: Saturday from Oakwood Park, between Winfield and Country Farm Roads; Sunday in downtown Winfield along Winfield Road
Cost: Free for spectators; entrance fees vary for competitors
The more than 600 cyclists will whiz through the area at speeds approaching 40 mph as part of the 12th annual Winfield Criterium.
"What I like about it is that it brings all the bikers in the area to a location that typically has a lot of automobile traffic," said Rich Johnson, a member of the Winfield-based Athletes by Design Cycle Club who is serving as race promoter and event director.
He hopes the event on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, will make drivers more aware of bicyclists in the community, proving that the two types of traffic can share the road and "not create mayhem."
The two-day race lineup will feature two different racecourses, each with steep climbs and plenty of room for spectators to take in the action.
"There's no other sport where you can go out on the field and see the athletes, see what's unfolding," said Mike Ebert, Athletes by Design's team and event director.
Organizers expect both amateur and professional cyclists to attend what Johnson calls "one of the better community events" Winfield has to offer.
Since its inception, the Winfield Criterium has been a weekend-long event organized by the Athletes by Design Cycle Club and an extensive crew of volunteers.
More than 200 members of the community, including local police and fire department personnel, contribute to the success of the high-speed bike races.
"All these people chip in a lot to really make this a great, fun event," Ebert said.
Saturday will be a Twilight Criterium, situated in the residential area between Winfield and County Farm Roads, with races running from 2:30 to 6 p.m. on the .9-mile course.
On Sunday, competitors will race a mile course through the heart of Winfield, along Winfield Road and the Winfield Metra tracks. Races begin at 8:30 a.m. and include events that are part of the American Bicycle Racing National Championships.
Johnson believes the event is unique in that it provides races for all skill levels, from beginners to professional cyclists.
Even children can be part of the action. The Good Old Days Kids Parade rolls off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and a kid's race starts at 1:10 p.m. Sunday. There will be a $3 fee for children wishing to participate in the race.
For many Winfield families, hosting a barbecue and gathering to watch the bikers zip through the residential streets has become a tradition.
"It's really great," Ebert said. "As a person from Winfield, I really enjoy seeing my fellow residents out and interacting with each other and cheering on the riders."