Wauconda's roads, lake appeal to bike race organizers
Following a presentation, Wauconda residents, business owners and village leaders are pondering a proposal to host a local bicycle race.
On Thursday, two representatives of a Wisconsin race series called the Tour of America's Dairyland talked to about 25 people about their proposal for an event in Wauconda, said Linda Kraniak, the village's director of economic and community development.
Tom Schuler and Bill Ochowicz led a PowerPoint presentation, showed a video and then answered questions from the audience, Kraniak said.
"I believe it was very positive," she said.
Criterium races are generally done on milelong courses on closed-off city streets.
Schuler and Ochowicz are looking at several communities in Illinois for an annual race, Kraniak said. They've never run a race in this state.
Ochowicz, a co-founder of the Dairyland series, believes Wauconda would make a good setting for a race because the roadways have some elevation and the town has some interesting architecture. The downtown area's proximity to Bangs Lake also is a draw, he said.
"We could create a really cool venue there," said Ochowicz, of Pewaukee, Wis.
If residents and business owners show support for the concept, village officials will pursue the idea. Such races generally have corporate sponsorship, so the village wouldn't fund the effort, Kraniak said.
"This is something that could be very promising for our businesses, if the community decides to back it," she said.
Village Administrator David Geary said officials will wait a few weeks before discussing the matter again, allowing the people who attended Thursday's session to talk about the proposal with their groups.
Community participation will be key moving forward, Geary said.
"We look at this as a partnership with the community," he said. "We're very excited about this, but we lose our excitement if we don't get buy-in from community groups."
If the proposal progresses, organizers and village officials will need to settle on a date. Ochowicz and Schuler recommended officials consider weekends in July.
If the race is in late July, it would be close to the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove, a criterium race with international standing that's always staged in early August.
That could attract high-caliber riders to the Wauconda event, Ochowicz said.
Winfield and Glencoe are among the other Illinois towns that have hosted criterium races.