Navy vet, Boise resident spearheads paracycling’s debut at Twilight Criterium

Kristin Armstrong rides at 2015 Boise Twilight Criterium

Cyclist Kristin Armstrong, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, signed autographs and rode with kids before the Boise Twilight Criterium bike race on July 11, 2015.
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Cyclist Kristin Armstrong, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, signed autographs and rode with kids before the Boise Twilight Criterium bike race on July 11, 2015.

Year after year, Craig Cornwall came to the Boise Twilight Criterium to watch top cyclists compete on his hometown streets. Finally, on Saturday, he will get the shot to race in it.

For nearly 20 years, Cornwall has been in a wheelchair following an accident on his way to Navy SEAL training in San Diego. A Middleton High graduate and Boise resident, he’s now a top competitive handcyclist. On Saturday, the Twilight Criterium will feature a race for paracyclists for the first time.

“I’m really, really excited, getting to be able to showcase it at a race I’ve been going to for years. Here in Boise, I can’t wait,” Cornwall said.

About a dozen are entered in the race, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Saturday, including national champion Ryan Pinney and national criterium champion Jerry Young.

“Craig’s been asking me for a long time. We just needed a big enough field, and he was able to get some of those guys, so we were all for it,” race director Mike Cooley said. “It’s super cool to watch, and hopefully we can get some excitement around it and expand it in the future.”

Cornwall, who has worked for NASA’s Langley Research Center and the Johnson Space Center, has been active as a handcyclist for about a decade. He first raced at nationals in 2008, where he said “I got my (butt) kicked.” He also has completed triathlons, but with five kids younger than 10 years old (including 5-year-old triplets), he focused solely on cycling. He took sixth in the H3 division (paraplegics with T4 through T10 spinal impairment) at nationals in May.

“It’s the only adaptive sport where you can be just one of the cyclists,” Cornwall said. “After training for a while, I was able to go out with the able-bodied cyclists, been able to do a couple 100-mile rides. The community here is full of awesome people.”

In 2012, Cornwall joined Paralyzed Veterans Racing, a team in which Pinney and Young are also members. The team competes around the country and has held clinics at VA hospitals. PVR is making it a weekend tour, with a time trial Friday around Lake Lowell and the first-ever paracycling state criterium championship Sunday in Hidden Springs.

“I’ve always thought it would be cool to show the sport to more people, and it’s great to have the support,” Cornwall said. “With the Twilight coming up, hopefully it’ll continue.”

Thousands of spectators watched professional and amateur cyclists compete in the Twilight Criterium bike race on the streets of Downtown Boise in 2015.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_southorn


Saturday, Downtown Boise

Noon — Kids Ride registration and autograph session with Kristin Armstrong. Off Capitol Blvd. at Jefferson Street, grassy area just west of Borah Post Office.

1:15-1:45 p.m. — Kids Ride

2-2:45 p.m. — Category 4/5

3-3:45 p.m. — Masters 40-and-up

4-4:30 p.m. — Women’s category 2/3/4

4:45-5:45 p.m. — Men’s category 1/2/3

6-6:30 p.m. — Paracycle Race

6:30-6:45 p.m. — GreenBike Celebrity Bike Ride

7-8 p.m. — Women’s Pro (Armstrong expected to compete)

8:15-9:45 p.m. — Men’s Pro/Category 1

Road Closures

Streets immediately surrounding Capitol Park will be closed at 7 a.m. Saturday to allow setup for vendors and the competitors’ staging area. The rest of the course will close streets at noon (Jefferson and Bannock between Fifth and Ninth). The Capital City Public Market will close 90 minutes earlier than usual, at noon, to allow for street closures.

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