Downtown Gulfport will be racing with excitement Saturday as hundreds of cyclists compete for the Louisiana-Mississippi Bicycle Racing Association Criterium Chapionship in the second annual Tour de Gulfport.
A criterium is defined as a one-day bicycle race on a circuit road course.
Racers are expected to come from throughout the region -- as far away as Tennessee and Florida -- to compete in the technical race course featuring tight turns, curves and straight-aways through downtown.
"This is the second time for us to host this event," said Chris Vignes public information officer for Gulfport. "It is a super cool event."
The course that is a little over a mile starts heading west on 14th Street to 22nd Avenue south to the frontage road west, north on 23rd Avenue, west on 14th Street, north on 24th Avenue and east along 15th Street.
Racers run for a designated time with top racers in men's categories 1 and 2 racing for an hour and beginners in category 5 racing for 20 minutes.
Gulfport economic development director David Parker said 25 teams will compete and this is the fourth and final race in the USA Cycling-sanctioned event for the championship.
You don't have to be a cycling expert, however, to compete or enjoy the race.
There are eight categories for racers, including men's and women's categories and beginners and juniors categories. The beginners category, Category 5, is open to anyone and participants can register by 2:30 p.m. to compete in the 3:30 p.m. event. Registration for the beginners category is $20.
Registration for all other categories is $35 and participants can register on-site the day of the event at least an hour before the start time of the category.
Online registration is available at usacycling.org.
There is no cost to be a spectator.
"This year, we will have bleachers with tents covering them," said Laurie Toups, executive director of the Gulfport Main Street Association. "There will be plenty of shade, food and beverages and D.J. music."
The bleachers will be set up in front of the police station at 22nd Avenue.
Sponsors for the event include Memorial Hospital & Physicians Clincs, Gulfport Main Street, Island View Casino Resort, One Coast, Coors Light, Redd Pest Solutions, Hancock Bank and the City of Gulfport.
The races begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with the Master Men's Category and conclude with the beginners race at 3:30 p.m. Prizes range from $1,250 for the top category winner to medals for beginners.
For more details, call Gulfport Main Street 868-3414.