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posted: 7/6/2017 1:00 AM

New bicycle road race coming to Elgin

New Elgin race named for cyclist whose death also inspired law

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  • Dennis Jurs of Hampshire, left, is pictured in this 2008 photo in a practice run for the Elgin Cycling Classic. The first Dennis Jurs Memorial Race is set for July 18 in Elgin.

      Dennis Jurs of Hampshire, left, is pictured in this 2008 photo in a practice run for the Elgin Cycling Classic. The first Dennis Jurs Memorial Race is set for July 18 in Elgin.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

A new bicycle road race in Elgin named after a local cyclist who died two years ago is expected to attract competitors from all over the country and even abroad.

The Dennis Jurs Memorial Race is July 18 in Elgin, and will be the fifth race in the Intelligentsia Cup running July 14-23 with 10 races in Chicago and the suburbs. The Cup is among few that lengthy in the United States, which makes it particularly appealing to professional and competitive cyclists, said Mark Zalewski, marketing director for Intelligentsia Cup.

Dennis Jurs grew up in Elgin and got into bike racing as a form of therapy to help heal his wounds from the Vietnam War, said his daughter, Rebecca Jurs, of South Elgin.

"He enjoyed every minute of it," she said.

He was riding his bike when he died at 68 on May 18, 2015, after a collision with a vehicle outside Hampshire, where he lived. The vehicle stopped at a stop sign and then drove forward; Jurs, who did not have a stop sign, crashed into the vehicle.

As a result, state Rep. Anna Moeller, an Elgin Democrat, sponsored "Dennis' Law," which took effect Jan. 1 and states that bicyclists have the same rights as drivers and are entitled to the right of way.

"We look at it like, from every tragedy something good and positive can happen," his daughter said.

Jurs, who was wearing a helmet when he died, was all about bike safety and always registered his children's bikes at the Elgin Police Department, Rebecca Jurs said.

"I feel honored that my dad touched so many people," she said, "not only in the biking community but also in the community, the greater Elgin community."

Jurs was instrumental in bringing to Elgin an under 23 Union Cycliste Internationale race, called the Four Bridges of Elgin, in the early 2000s. The Elgin race on July 18 includes "the best parts" of the former Four Bridges race, Zalewski said.

The all-day event will include a neighborhood festival with bike clinics. The course is 3.56 miles, with the start and finish at Spring Street and Slade Avenue, and it will include "a lot of really great hills," said Parker Thompson, a member of the planning committee.

Racing starts at 10 a.m. with juniors; pro women race at 5:05 p.m. and pro men race at 6:45 p.m. There will be races for kids ages 4 to 9 from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

At least five countries will be represented among riders, Rebecca Jurs said.

"Even if you're not into bike racing, it's neat to be able to come and cheer them on," she said, "and know that Elgin had a hand in helping develop some of these pros."

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