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Jennifer Cvar is the founder and executive director of the IU Health Momentum Indy bicycle festival, which is scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 27-28 and is described on the event’s website as a “two-day bicycle festival offering bicycle racers, riders, families, and fans an unforgettable experience in downtown Indianapolis.”
The festival is built around two cycling events that draw pro and amateur racers from across the U.S.: Saturday evening’s Mass Ave Crit presented by First Internet Bank and Sunday’s Indy Crit. The weekend offers activities for everyone, from families who enjoy active community events to professional cyclists competing for thousands of dollars in prize money.
Stemming from a single race in 2010, the event has grown into a festival that includes a second race; a free community ride called the Honor Major Taylor Ride presented by Zipp; the Riley Children’s Health Kids Zone presented by PNC and Meijer, and more. We spoke with Jennifer to learn more about the festival and her affinity for the cycling community.
AS THE FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE IU HEALTH MOMENTUM INDY BICYCLE FESTIVAL, WHAT SPURRED YOU TO CREATE THE FESTIVAL?
I began bike racing in 2008 and my team traveled to several other large races in the Midwest, namely the Chicago Criterium, Gateway Cup in St. Louis, and the Hyde Park Blast in Cincinnati. They were amazing bike races with a street festival vibe that were much larger than any of the bike racing here in Indianapolis at the time. So with a little bit of knowledge about how to produce an event, we just did it. The event started out as a bike race, with one food truck and a few hundred people. It has since turned into a large community festival with the bike racing as a focal point.
how did you become so passionate about the cycling community?
Many of the people in our local cycling community are my friends. We have a very tight-knit group of people who not only ride together but socialize off the bike. It’s fun to be part of a community of people who are welcoming while also challenging you to be your best both physically and mentally.
WHAT CAN ATTENDEES OF THE IU HEALTH MOMENTUM INDY EXPECT THIS YEAR? ANYTHING NEW?
We are anticipating thousands of spectators at the races (Mass Ave Crit and Indy Crit), as well as hundreds of attendees who will take part in the Honor Major Taylor Ride. This year, the Mass Ave Crit is part of the American Criterium Cup, a national 10-race series highlighting the best male and female professional racers from across the county. The Mass Ave Crit will be livestreamed on Outside TV and broadcast live on a video wall at the event.
We’ve also added an athlete panel and reception called INSPIRE: An Evening with Today’s Most Compelling Cyclists. The panel highlights four athletes who have inspiring stories to share. Panelists include Tony Kanaan, Indy 500 winner and avid cyclist; Oksana Masters, a multi-sport Paralympic athlete (including handcycling) of Ukrainian descent; Cory Williams, a pro cyclist who co-founded the cycling team L39ION of Los Angeles with a mission to bring accountability and diversity to the sport; and Rahsaan Bahati, 10-time U.S. champion who rides for his own team, Bahati Cycling, and operates the Bahati Foundation, which works to strengthen inner-city youth on and off the bike. INSPIRE kicks off our event weekend on Friday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. It is a free event hosted at the Indiana State Museum and tickets are still available.
What HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF WORKING TO PUT TOGETHER SUCH A LARGE-SCALE EVENT, AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THOSE CHALLENGES?
Coordinating all of the little details and communicating those details to everyone who makes up our event. We have overcome those challenges through the tireless efforts of volunteers and sheer passion for producing an excellent event.
What ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR IU HEALTH MOMENTUM INDY?
We want to keep growing the event and reaching more people in the greater Indianapolis community so that they can be a part of it. Almost every activity of the weekend is underwritten by the generosity of our sponsors, which makes the event accessible to anyone who wishes to attend.
We want to be a part of making Indianapolis a healthier place to live, work, and play, and bicycling is a huge component of that. We love seeing all of the connectivity plans that communities across the region are investing in because that gets more people out on bikes in a safe, fun way. Our vision is to inspire our community to experience the joy of bicycling and movement. We hope the programming of the IU Health Momentum Indy achieves just that!
Featured photo is of Jennifer Cvar and cyclist Justin Williams.
Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven.