Welcome back, Wolfpack.
The famed crit crew will once again pair with the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) for the organization’s annual Bike Fest dedicated to all things two-wheeled on May 30. Taking place once again in the East Village, Wolfpack will bring the 2nd Short Line Crit (previously Shortline) to the streets starting at 4PM.
Wolfpack, led by biking guru Don Ward, is the thing of biking legend. The antithesis to CicLAvia or the red-tape-bound USA Cycling events, this crit (short for a race criterium, or what is basically a loop that people race around) is defined by a lack of rules.
Sharp turns. Urban settings. Occurring at night. Dog tags as prizes.
But this year is different. Formerly part of a three-part, SoCal-only series dubbed the Unified Title Series, Ward is expanding the series eastward toward Austin.
“I’ve said the Short Line represents this bounce-back for Wolfpack because of all the drama that surrounded the [City of Los Angeles’] cancellation of last year’s Marathon Crash… And it brings me to say that I love working with Long Beach; I can’t say the same for the City of Los Angeles.”
“Whats different this year is that we are moving out east,” Ward said. “[It’s] the first of a four-part series that ends in Austin.”
His hopes for the series are not to be underrated: Ward wants Unified to become national by next year by adding one more city from the east coast, possibly Detroit or DC. For now, however, the Unified will (once again) begin in Long Beach, head to Huntington Park for the drag race, stop by DTLA for the crit around the City Hall, and then end in Austin.
“[The series will[ always begin in Long Beach,” Ward said, “but I am thinking about bringing it back to LA in 2016—it’s hard to say… But definitely, I want to take this national because it shows off LA and Long Beach’s biking scene more. We deserve that.”
Last year’s Short Line Crit brought some 300 participants, with 50 of those being women. (On that latter point, perhaps Long Beach local and third-place in last year’s road bike competition in the Short Line, Asia Morris, will represent DTLB and score the gold. Or at least, she tells us she’s been planning on it by training vigorously and even sports a pride regarding the “little pimples that have recently made their debut in that hairless space between my eyebrows due to a nasty mix of sunscreen, sweat and grit from cycling.” Can we get an amen to that?)
“Y’know,” Ward said, “I’ve said the Short Line represents this bounce-back for Wolfpack because of all the drama that surrounded the [City of Los Angeles’] cancellation of last year’s Marathon Crash… And it brings me to say that I love working with Long Beach; I can’t say the same for the City of Los Angeles. And that’s because I’m not working with a City but an organization like the DLBA. The DLBA has made Long Beach one of my favorite places to work in. They get it, they get us, they support what we do, and they make a great event even better.”
The red tape associated with municipalities has often been an issue with Wolfpack and Ward’s nod toward letting an organization that “gets it” do the work could perhaps provide a blueprint for future events in the City. (Beach Streets, anyone?)
“We’re stoked to be featured as Bike Fest,” Ward said. “It’s the part that makes this race so special: Bike Fest is this beautiful centerpiece. We have a beer garden and music—it makes it more spectacular.”
The good news—particularly following the odd fallout of 2014’s Marathon crash race—is that they are coming to Long Beach again. The course will also be the same, with Broadway and 1st to the north and south and Atlantic and Elm on the east and west.
For more information, click here.
Disclosure: Brian Addison is an employee of the DLBA and currently serves as their Communications Manager. This view is explicitly Mr. Addison’s own.
Editor’s note: this article originally stated that it was the Shortline Crit; Don Ward changed it this year to Short Line Crit.