Cyclists to return to West Dundee, Elgin for Intelligentsia Cup

The Intelligentsia Cup may have at first caused an inconvenience to homeowners in West Dundee and Elgin neighborhoods as streets were closed so bicyclists could use them for their racecourse, but residents have become accustomed to and now welcome the annual summer event.

In fact, some people take the day off from work and volunteer as course marshals or invite friends to watch the cyclists wiz past their homes.

"Some residents have lawn parties on the day of the races," said Mark Zalewski, marketing director for the race. "They invite their neighbors and watch the races together."

Get the invitations out because the Elgin leg of the races will be Sunday, July 22. West Dundee will host it on the following Wednesday, July 25. If you are so inclined, volunteer as marshal and be involved in the sport.

"Marshals make sure spectators stay off the course," Zalewski said. "They also direct spectators to various events during the day."

West Dundee resident Michael Dewey has volunteered for two years. For him, it's fun, interesting and a long day.

"The day starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. There's a series of races and different classes. We have a race for kids and a family bike ride," Dewey said. "I get a kick out of people having a good time."

In the past, a few people have complained about their streets being closed to cars, but the 5,000-plus people who compete and watch the cyclists generate excitement.

"This is an exciting event for West Dundee. It doesn't cost people anything to watch, and since it's held on a weekday, the village doesn't spend any money on police or public works employees," he said. "They are already working."

For a day, the 10 Chicago-area communities that host each leg of the race attract thousands of people who shop in local stores and eat in local restaurants.

The Intelligentsia Cup challenge takes 10 days to complete. Each day is held in a different community, including Lake Bluff, South Chicago, Niles, Elmhurst and Glen Ellyn. Cyclists from novice to expert race in different categories, according to their experience.

Prizes range from a cup of coffee to cash.

"It attracts people from around the world," Zalewski said. "It has become known in bicycle racing circles."

The West Dundee course is a well-known course because of its hills. Cyclists will ride up and down hills on Sixth, Seventh, Washington and Geneva streets.

"West Dundee is a short course, but it's challenging," Dewey said. "It probably one of the most challenging of the courses."

Its 11 races begin at 10 a.m. and continue past 7:30 p.m.

Elgin's course is flatter and longer. Riders will roll along Duncan, Lincoln, Cooper and Sherwood avenues. Its 11 races start at 8 a.m. and continue past 6 p.m.

"Our volunteer course marshals serve an important role, keeping people safe and informed on the different races," Zalewski said. "We'll need more in Elgin than in West Dundee because of the longer course and the more spectators it attracts."

Forty-eight volunteers are needed in West Dundee.

"We like our volunteers to be at least 18 years old," he said.

For more information about the races or to volunteer, register at

  The West Dundee course of the Intelligentsia Cup is short, but challenging because of its hills. Brian Hill/, 2016
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