Ride, raise funds at Elgin Cycling Classic

Summertime evokes one word in most Midwestern bike racing enthusiasts: Superweek.

This intense series of Wisconsin and Illinois races has roots that stretch back 41 years. Now, the 2009 edition is expanding to the Fox Valley.

This coming Sunday, July 12, the City of Elgin will be a key venue in the series with the debut of the Sherman Health Elgin Cycling Classic. It will be the third of seventeen consecutive racing days during the International Cycling Classic and Superweek Pro Tour, which runs from July 9 to July 26.

With more than 700 cyclists coming from all over the world, including China, South America, Australia, Germany, and Mexico, anticipation for the event is growing high.

"Partnering with the ICC-Superweek Tour will increase the number of riders and level of competition in the Elgin race and take it to the next level," said Dennis Jurs, chairman of the Sherman Health Elgin Cycling Classic committee. "This type of professional cycling event is a nice tie-in with the city's efforts to become a bike-friendly and sustainable community."

Elgin's modern cycling history began with the Four Bridges Road Race, which the city hosted from 2000 through 2003 in its northeast neighborhoods. After a year off, the Elgin Cycling Classic was then launched downtown in 2005, and it has since involved more than 300 cyclists annually.

Most Superweek races are criteriums, which traditionally take place on a one-mile or shorter loop course. The Elgin race is unique in that it is the only one in the Illinois circuit that is a road race, with a challenging route that stretches approximately 5.5 miles, covering much of the original Four Bridges course.

The steep hill on Trout Park Boulevard should once again be a great spectator location for seeing the toughest battles unfold throughout the day.

Elgin is also the only stage in the entire Superweek circuit to host a special prize for racers under the age of 23, or U-23. The purse for the top three U-23 riders is $1,000.

"We are hoping to encourage the development of the next generation of cyclists by hosting a U-23 race," Jurs said. "Perhaps people will be able to see these up-and-coming riders in the Olympics at some point, maybe even see them in action if the Olympics come to Chicago."

In partnership with the race, the YWCA Elgin will be hosting children's' races and a one-lap charity ride to benefit local nonprofit organizations. Thirty-five percent of the funds cyclists raise in this charitable "Ride for a Reason" will be donated to the YWCA Elgin's Youth Service Programs that serve women, children and families. The other 65 percent will be donated to the local nonprofit church, school group or organization of the participant's choice.

Fundraising may be done as an individual or as a team, and teams are encouraged to wear their group or organization's colors.

Registration for both the kids' races and Ride for a Reason will be at Douglas Avenue and Ann Street, just north of the start/finish line, beginning at 2 p.m. Those events begin at 2:30 p.m. For more information on these races, contact the YWCA Elgin at (847) 742-7930.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, July 11, the community is invited to join the cyclists for a fun preview ride around the course. An all-you-can-eat pasta dinner at Villa Verone follows at 7 p.m. for $12 per person. You can register for the dinner by calling (847) 488-1456.

In addition to Sunday's racing, Sherman Health Elgin Cycling Classic festivities include food and vendors near the start/finish line at the Douglas Street Sports Bar and Grill, 231 Douglas Ave.

The Sherman Health Elgin Cycling Classic is organized by a committee of volunteers under the umbrella of the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin. The DNA sponsors the event along with the Daily Herald, the city of Elgin, Sherman Health and other local businesses.

For details, visit or call (847) 488-1456. Volunteers are still needed, so if you're willing to help out, contact Betsy Couture at (847) 741-3561.

Todd Underwood covers cycling in the Chicago area. E-mail or write to him c/o Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123.

If you go

What: Sherman Health Elgin Cycling Classic, featuring 700 racers from around the world

When: Races begin at 9:45 a.m. and continue throughout the day Sunday, June 12

Where: Races begin at the corner of Ann and Douglas streets and travel a six-mile loop through the residential neighborhoood and commercial corridor of Route 25 northeast of downtown.

Just watching? A festival of live music, food and vendors will take place at Douglas Street Bar and Grill, 231 Douglas. Parking is available in and around the race course or free on the parking ramps at Fulton Street, Highland Avenue and Douglas Avenue.

Registration: Day of event registration for the Kids' Bike Race, charity ride and U-23 Bike Race begins at 7 a.m. at the corner of Kimball Street and Douglas Avenue.

Details: Visit or call (847) 488-1456.

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