Elgin Cycling Classic changes locations
A new location and free trolley rides are among the highlights of the fourth annual Elgin Cycling Classic bicycle races on Sunday.
Trolleys will transport riders between the race course and the Elgin FoxFireFest downtown at Festival Park.
Cyclists and spectators alike are encouraged to join in the fun as there will be 14 different categories of races beginning at 8 a.m. and culminating in the men's pro race at 4 p.m.
"Most of the racers are from outside of Elgin, so the race is a great way to showcase our city," said Tonya Hudson, executive director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin. "
"With this year's race running through Lords Park and its neighborhood, we're offering racers a beautiful, challenging course that they are sure to enjoy and remember."
Sanctioned by American Bicycle Racing, the Elgin Cycling Classic is considered a criterium race because it features a short, closed-loop course. Criteriums are a fan-favorite because of the frequency and speed with which racers cover the route.
Spectators get a chance to see the colorful pack of cyclists pass by every minute or two and can therefore follow the action more easily.
Preregistration indicates riders will be coming from as far away as California.
Starting out on Grand Boulevard, participants will head south to Forest Street, west to Preston Avenue, north to Franklin Boulevard, and back to Grand. Riders will be treated to tricky little hill by the lagoon each time around and that should make for a great place to watch the action.
Dennis Jurs, race director and chairman of the race committee mentioned that two factors led his committee to move the course away from downtown this year: the expansion of FoxFireFest and the current construction conditions of last year's streets.
Jurs says he can't wait to be involved both behind the scenes and as a racer in the Masters 60+ category. He and a few teammates from Team Mack have been preparing on the course for a while now and he has noticed others doing the same.
"I'm riding at least five evenings a week in preparation," Jurs said.
"I usually race time trials and road races which involve efforts spread out over a longer period of time. This is my first criterium of the year and since it's full of shorter bursts of high intensity, I'm doing a series of all-out sprints for a minute and then recovering fully.
"At this point in the season, most of us are in pretty good shape so it's more about fine tuning."
Steve Spencer from Lombard is planning to race in the main Pro category 1-2 event with a couple of teammates from the ABD/GearGrinder team.
"My goal is doing well at the U.S. National Criterium Championship in mid-August and this would be a good tune-up event," Spencer said.
With cash prizes totaling $12,000, there is certainly some incentive to do well.
On the other end of the spectrum, the popular children's races are back, pitting 5- and 6-year-olds together, along with children ages 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12.
Kid's races are free and registration is the day of the race at Lord's Park Pavilion. These races begin at noon and will consist of one-to-three-quarters of a lap around the course. Ribbons will be awarded to all participants and trophies to the first five in each age group.
For additional information about Sunday's races, visit elgincyclingclassic.com.
Bike to work: The momentum of Sunday's races leads us right into Elgin's first Bike-to-Work week. It will be jam-packed with benefits beyond the obvious fitness gains and gas savings.
Next week's events include free showers at the Centre for bicyclists on Monday through Friday; a free bike clinic at Elgin Harvest Market at noon on Thursday, hosted by the Bicycle Garage; a downtown lunch on Friday; and free bike maps and water bottles given out at various locations.
For more information on Bike-to-Work week and how you can get involved, contact the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin at (847) 488-1456.
• Todd Underwood covers cycling in the Chicago area. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.