In 2010, former amateur racing cyclists, Jennifer Cvar and Wayde Klein created the Indy Criterium (Indy Crit), now known as Momentum Indy, a festival featuring bicycle racing on Monument Circle. The festival not only showcases bicycling but also health and fitness, youth and community organizations and programs, and transportation connectivity.

Boys and girls junior racers compete in the Indy Criterium Bicycle Festival, 2018 Credit: Robert Scheer / IndyStar View Source

Momentum Indy’s main events, the Indy Crit and the Mass Ave Crit recall Indianapolis’s bicycle racing history. A criterium, or “crit,” is a multi-lap bike race on a closed course. During the heyday of cycling in the late 19th and early 20th century, bicycle manufacturer Arthur C. Newby and architect Herbert Foltz planned and built a state-of-the-art, quarter-mile, wooden cycling course at Central Avenue and 31st Street called the Newby Oval, which opened in July 1898. Amateur cyclists James Allison, Frank Wheeler, and Carl G. Fisher, members of Newby’s local Zig-Zag Cycling Club who later founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and professional cyclists such as Marshall W. (Major) Taylor participated regularly in friendly and competitive crit races at Newby’s closed-oval track.

The contemporary Indy Criterium event draws over 15,000 attendees downtown, many from surrounding states. Hundreds of families and children participate in health and wellness and bicycle safety activities at the festival through the Family Ride, kids’ bicycle races, and interactive Kids’ Zone.

Racers in the Indy Criterium Bicycle Festival, 2018 Credit: Robert Scheer / IndyStar View Source

Over 300 volunteers give their time, talent, and resources to bring this cultural celebration of bicycling and health and fitness to Indianapolis each year. The festival has generated over $170,000 in proceeds for local nonprofits that support youth development programs, health and wellness, and workforce development. Mayors Gregory Ballard and Joe Hogsett have enthusiastically engaged in the Mayor’s Celebrity Bicycle Race as riders to highlight our city’s anchor institutions, businesses, and public safety organizations.

In 2019, the Mass Ave Criterium (Mass Ave Crit), which had been founded in 2007 by Kevin McKinney owner and publisher of the alternative newspaper Nuvo, merged with the Indy Criterium Bicycle Festival. This race on a closed-circuit course through the Mass Ave cultural district continued as part of the festival. It is the longest-running urban cycling race in the Midwest. Also in 2019, Indy Crit held the inaugural Marshall “Major” Taylor Community Bike Ride, which drew hundreds of bicycle riders of varying abilities to Monument Circle and to the Major Taylor Velodrome, in honor of the Indianapolis sports legend and international sports and cultural icon. This ride has been rebranded as the Honor Major Taylor Fondo with an accompanying ride for children called the Mini Major Taylor Ride.

Canceled in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic, the event resumed and rebranded in 2021 as Momentum Indy, a 2-day bicycling festival. In 2022, the Mass Ave Crit gained national and international recognition when it became the ninth stop of the America’s Criterium Cup, bringing professional cyclists from around the world to Indianapolis.

Revised December 2022

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