LEWISTON — This Sunday, downtown Lewiston will be the site of the first Balloon Festival Criterium, a tight, fast-paced .7-mile loop that will feature six amateur and professional races plus three fun races, one for adults and two for children.

Rainbow Bicycle, Busytown Bikes and the Maine Cycling Club have organized the event, which starts at 9:30 a.m. and is scheduled to end at 3 p.m.

The start/finish line is on Lisbon Street at the end of Dufresne Plaza. From there, riders will turn left onto Main Street and make the tight swing immediately left onto Canal Street, continuing down Canal and turning left and slightly uphill onto Chestnut Street and then left on Lisbon and back to the start/finish line.

The USA Cycling-sanctioned races will last between 30 to 60 minutes each, depending on category. The riders will often reach speeds over 40 mph and are expected to average 25 mph or more in the elite categories for both men and women.

Sections of Lisbon, Canal and Chestnut streets will be closed to all traffic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and no parking will be permitted on the course for the duration of the event. The best place to park is the Oak Street garage, using the Ash Street entrance.

The annual Great Falls Balloon Festival at nearby Simard-Payne Memorial Park will be going on at the same time, and motorists and pedestrians are asked to be cautious and watch for riders.

As of Wednesday, 57 riders have registered to participate, including 19 registered for the men’s pro/category 1-2-3 race. That field is open to 100 participants.

The race fees range from $10 to $35, with cash prizes awarded in three of the categories. Registration for the kids’ fun races is free, and the fields for the 200-meter and 400-meter events are each limited to 50 children.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. Sunday. To register in advance, see the schedule and view a course map, go to www.bikereg.com/balloon-festival-criterium.


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