Bike race returns to downtown Camas

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The beauty of downtown Camas will be on display when the Camas Twilight Criterium returns on Saturday, July 31, for the first time in five years.

David Hart co-directed the event through North River Racing between 2000 and 2004, before it relocated to downtown Vancouver. Hart moved to Camas in 2007.

“Now that I live here, I thought I would address the idea of having a bike race through downtown,” Hart said. “I like the small community feel. A lot of people live right here in downtown. You don’t have to sit through a lot of rush hour traffic to get down here.”

Hart is the race director and Ed Fisher, owner of Camas Bike & Sport, is the promoter.

“There is a lot of great racing in Oregon. I live in Camas, and I want people to see what my downtown is like,” Hart said. “Camas has a lot to offer, a lot of beauty and a lot of business.”

“Whether you are a rider or a spectator, you should be able to come down here and have a good time,” Fisher said. “We hope this brings excitement to the town, and brings people back to all of the other events Camas has to offer.”

The Criterium begins with a free kids race, open to boys and girls 12 and younger with a parent or gaurdian present, at 4:45 p.m. Category 4/5 men go off at 5 p.m., category 3 men at 5:45 p.m., masters men at 6:45 p.m. and senior men at 7:35 p.m. Category 3 women can race with the 4/5 men’s group and category 2 women can race with the category 3 men. These races are $20 each, and $10 for a second race.

On-site registration opens at 4 p.m. People who want to sign up ahead of time can stop by Camas Bike & Sport. Fisher said volunteers are needed to help the event run smoothly. If interested, call 210-5160.

The races will start on Fourth Avenue, in downtown Camas. Riders head up to Seventh Avenue on Dallas Street and come back down on Birch Street. The racers should be able to compete a lap in about two minutes, which should keep spectators entertained. The two best vantage points will be on the corner of Birch and Fourth or at the top of the hill at Dallas and Seventh.

“Each lap has about 7 feet of climbing,” Hart said. “The riders will be hitting the hills and then hitting the speed.”

Several Camas businesses are sponsoring the Criterium, including Twilight Pizza Bistro, Pure Wellness, Fit Right Northwest, Burgerville, Gorge Delights, Lacamas Community Credit Union, El Rancho Viejo, Precision Eye Care, Ninkasi Brewing Co., Koboos Coffee and the Half Fast Velo Racing Team. Vendors will be on hand serving food and drinks. Proceeds from the event are going to benefit the Camas Athletic Booster Club.

“Everything is coming from the community to help local businesses,” Hart said. “Having the town be part of the race, and having local businesses involved, is very important.”

Before he learned how to drive, Hart got around on his bike.

“When I got my learner’s permit, the bike kind of got kicked to the curb,” he said.

Looking for recreational activities, as he got older, Hart returned to riding bikes in 1995. He also began pursuing a college degree in exercise science.

Hart is going into his second year full time at Clark College, and plans to transfer to Concordia University in Portland, Ore. He hopes to become a cycling coach, or a personal trainer at a school or a business.

In the meantime, Hart will continue to promote downtown Camas as a destination for bike riders.

“I like that there are very few traffic lights and stops. It only takes me about 15 minutes of riding and I’m in the Gorge. I don’t think people realize how close we are,” Hart said. “I believe Portland, Vancouver and Camas has a lot to offer to its citizens. We can be a close community. I want all of these people to be a part of it.”