Great Pave Liga racing continued Friday, July 25th, at the Elmhurst Cycling Classic p/b EMC2. It was race #6 of the Intelligentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series, but after a couple days off the fields seemed well rested. The Village of Elmhurst and EMC2 hosted a great venue, and the racing was very competitive. And thanks Tim Radcliffe for the special coupons! Intelligentsia continued to make the most of the PSCS, moving up another 2 places. Likewise WDT had some strong results and broke into the Top 10. Based on what I’ve seen of Downers Grove results, we may see these two teams further solidify their positions. Official results are posted here.
Great racing at the Intelligentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series, Willow Springs Road Race p/b Tower Racing. Send us your race reports,videos and photos. Field sizes were great - especially for a mid-week race. Love having a road race so close to home. Personally would have liked a little more selection from the hill - next year do the short course for more trips up the hill. Nice job by Tower supporting the race. Not a lot of movement in the Pave Liga standings - teams are starting to consolidate their placings. We’re getting to the 4th quarter but there are still plenty of opportunities to move up. Elmhurst - Friday and Downers Grove - Sunday.
Tim Radcliff (EMC2, Race Director of the Elmhurst Cycling Classic) has asked us to spread the work on getting your team tents setup at the event. They are looking for the race to have a big presence in the business district—and what better way then a caravan of team tents! And if its motivating - $20 in food and drink certificates to each team tent. A little something to help get the festivities started…
ChicagoBikeRacing: Please tell us a little about yourself—how long you’ve been cycling, involvement in race directing, and the Chicago cycling scene.
Tim Radcliff: I have been racing since the late 80’s and started racing when I lived in Pittsburgh, PA. I raced with Pittsburgh Pro Bikes which sounds comical as I think about it. I was never remotely close to “pro”, nor viewed myself as a real contender at 6’4” 185 pounds, especially as we climbed the big hills of Pittsburgh. I was a pack-fodder Cat 4. I was hanging on for dear life on the Pennsylvania hills, but enjoying the sport nonetheless. When I moved to Chicago, my crit skills improved, but I never really took myself or racing too seriously. However, I found that the flat terrains of Chicagoland certainly suited me better than Pittsburgh! Cat 2 upgrade came after I finally paid attention to whom I was racing against, focused my training a bit more, and improved my strategy a bit. At 6’ 4” drafting is always a challenge, and I need all the advantage I can get. So for example, I have learned to use my earlobe fuzz as a “wind-turbulence detector system” – kind of like curb-feelers on a car ;-) When I line up at a crit, I love attacking or going for breaks to spice things up, and would rather be aggressive and fail than to sit in for a sprint. It is a hobby gone haywire for me, and I just challenge myself as much as I can.
Race directing? – this is our second year of the Elmhurst Cycling Classic, and I just keep trying to bring best practices from other venues to our race.
CBR: You ride for Elmhurst Masters Cycling (EMC2), tell us about the team and your teammates.
TR: Well, I met some great guys when I moved to Elmhurst. They introduced me to the old West Suburban Wheelman training rides, which many “Masters” guys from Chicagoland may know about. Several of the guys on the training ride had raced before, and now just went out at ridiculously early hours to suffer on the bike. Solid friendships were formed, but we all raced independently and trained very hard.
Our favorite pub in Elmhurst is Fitz’s Pub, and so I grabbed 5 of the guys, got some beers in them, and proposed the idea of starting a non-sponsored, masters racing team. Low key, low profile, low pressure, no ego team. They bought in, and 5 years ago EMC2 was born with some really special guys. We have grown over the years, but have done so really deliberately. I am incredibly focused on building a positive team chemistry, and at EMC2, we prefer great people over prolific winners. Certainly we want to win, and we compete hard. But we want good riders who make us all better people. I have told our team that when we are done throwing our leg over the top tube, the friendships we make and the lives we impact will carry so much more weight than our medals. (I know - insert joke about us having few medals) The cool thing is, we do have guys doing really well! And at all levels. It’s really fun to watch.
CBR: EMC2 sponsored last year’s Elmhurst Cycling Classic, how did EMC2 get involved in the Prairie State Cycling Classic.
TR: It was really pretty interesting timing. My team leaders had explored the idea of putting on a crit since our roster had grown. And we had supported ABR already with the MATTS Finale in Garden Prairie. Just as we started getting serious about the concept, an Alderman from Elmhurst and the head of the Elmhurst Bike Task Force reached out to me. They had been approached by a couple of promoters and asked if I would help them bring a race to Elmhurst. However, I was unwilling to put my team’s name on a race promoted by the guy that approached them. St Charles had just happened, and I heard that PSCS was looking to expand. So I contacted them, introduced them to the City of Elmhurst, and we all decided to do it. We knew it was going to be a huge undertaking, but having raced TOAD, we had confidence in Prairie State’s folks. It has been a fantastic endeavor. Its a second job for me. I owe my family and team leaders big time. I really under estimated how much work a race is. Every time I race now, I can more fully appreciate how paying registration fees is nothing. When we race somewhere, we are all the beneficiary of someone else’s hard work.
One of the most rewarding elements of the Elmhurst Cycling Classic race was writing checks to charities with the net proceeds. My team is a not-for-profit team. So last year we donated $11,250 to a number charities - they are listed on our site. Pretty cool.
CBR: Last year’s event was hot—both the air temp and the competition! I thought the course was great, not your typical 4-corner crit. Any changes for this year and what should we look for in race tactics.
TR: The course is the same, and some bumpy spots are repaired. I say a prayer each night that we don’t have another 108 degree heat index day. 2 of the ambulance transports were from heat exhaustion, including Prairie State’s photographer. He went down like a sack of potatoes. Superior Ambulance got him quickly to the ER, Elmhurst Memorial popped him back to life, and he was shooting the pro races in a couple of hours.
The two notables of the course: the chicane at turn 2 is a great place to separate those who can corner vs. those who cannot. It is safe, but if you can’t manage your bike or if you’re tentative, you will be jumping to catch the train as it rockets up the back stretch. The second in the finishing straight. It seemsflat….but it’s not. Go too early and you will be gobbled up as you lose momentum on the hill. That is where United Healthcare blew it last year – 1,2,3 out of the turn and they lost to Ricardo Ensuela of Predator who popped through at the crest of the hill. There is a racer guide on our site this year with a fun preview video that Jostein Alvestad and I shot at, like, 4 in the morning. www.elmhurstcyclingclassic.com That dude is a hambone. And a hell of a guy.
CBR: As we know these events don’t happen without sponsors—tell us about your sponsors.
TR: Thank you for asking. Superior Ambulance is our title sponsor. Their professionalism and thorough planning gives us great comfort regarding emergency response, They sent us 2 trucks and a roaming medical cart. These guys work the Chicago Marathon and know event management. Top notch emergency response. This year, the law firm of Storino, Ramello & Durkin is our presenting sponsor. Don Storino is a community-oriented man who has been critical to our success. Roesch Auto Group will do the pace car again, which is great considering last year I think he left a complete tire’s worth of marks through the chicane after a day of driving. His Charger was flying through the turns!
We have numerous other sponsors at many levels, and they all are interested in seeing the race grow since it is good for Elmhurst. Olympia Chiropractic and PT, for example, works on a lot of our riders. They sponsored the family fun ride. Dr Mike Calcagno is an icon in Elmhurst with sports therapy. Our sponsor page on our site lists them all. They are really special people and great businesses.
CBR: What else should we know about the race? I know last year there were some great event activities other than bike racing going on—we stuck around after for food and a couple of beers.
TR: We are really happy to have the race finish right at the Wilder Mansion. That garden area and the Mansion are the only places you can have alcohol in the park. So, it is turning into a fantastic beer garden of sorts right at the start finish line. This year we have 2 passes - a drinks only pass or a fully-catered dinner and drinks pass. Again, net proceeds go to charities. The course circles the lovely Elmhurst College and through 2 neighborhood streets. I keep hearing more of them are getting the parties ready to watch the action near the chicane. Cowbells will be ringing.
Oh - and for the families who enable us to race: Bring them! We have face painting for kids, a great family fun ride, and park activities nearby. Plus, the shopping and restaurant district is a block and a half away. Chicago folks can hop off the West line Metra and be a block from the race…literally. If families need to cool down or take a break, our site lists options for them. And YES, I bought a misting tent to cool down this year.
Lastly, stay tuned for some fun Pave Liga news. I am currently working on a prize/award idea for Pave Liga teams. Stay tuned to Pave Liga for that!
Saturday’s Lake Bluff Criterium results have been added to the Pave Liga standings. Not a lot of movement, but WDT-Allvoi moved up to within striking distance of the Top 10. Look for results from the Willow Springs Road Race - I think these are going to shake things up a bit.
The next stop of the Intelligentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series and The Pave Liga is Wednesday, July 23rd. The race is presented by Tower Racing, who I am sure will be out en masse. This is right in their backyard!
Here’s a course map. A 9.8 mile loop, with the main feature a little stair step climb to the finish (assuming they use the usual start/finish). Otherwise the course is pretty flat. The group can get bunched up on the narrow streets if no one sets a pace. The streets are about a “C” grade, with a few sections worse than others - stay out of the gutters and watch that big dead raccoon about half way down Archer.
What a great first weekend of the Intelligentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series. Results are posted. Saturday’s Lake Bluff Criterium was scored for the Pave Liga. Early results look like there could be some movement in the standings. We’ve got three more upcoming PSCS races being scored.
Wednesday - Willow Springs Road Race - this is a great course featuring a deceptive little hill. Deceptive in whether it can split the race, or just be a nuisance. You have to make each trip up the hill count, otherwise it will end up a power sprint. Talk to the guys who raced it in 2009 and 2011.
Friday - Elmhurst Cycling Classic - not your ordinary 4 corner criterium, last year’s race was VERY hot (both competition-wise and weather-wise!) The town really gets behind the race so plan on sticking around to enjoy Friday night festivities.
Sunday - Downers Grove Criterium - the legend of Downers continues as PSCS resurrects one of the true icons of Chicagoland road racing. The course is definitely technical. You can just picture that sweeping final corner into the punchy uphill finish (which many a would-be US Crit Champion it has claimed!)
Great race at the Winfield Criterium on Saturday, July 12th. The weather ended up being a non-issue. I have to say that is one of the best crit course of the season - perfect roads, open turns, challenging little climb and a fast finish. Somewhat reminds me of Downers Grove (oh - and did we mention Downers Grove is back!). Here are the Pave Liga standings after Winfield:
Marco Colbert: We began with the idea to create a series that would bring top-level bike racing back to the Chicagoland area. There is such a rich history of great racing here but in recent years many long-standing events have faded, as is often the case with cycling events. Thanks to our partnership with Intelligentsia, founded in Chicago but with a presence on both coasts, our goal is to make this the premiere racing series in the city, and then down the road the region and beyond.
Each year we have enhanced multiple aspects of the series. Last year we grew from one to seven venues, bringing back existing events like the race in Beverly. This year we have strived to focus on venues in Chicagoland to keep things close and minimize the travel burdens and bringing back an exciting course like Downers Grove. All but one of our venues is next to a Metra stop but we have also partnered with Zipcar to offer a discount for racers who choose not to own a car — it’s a great way to get to races around the city and suburbs.
CBR: Maybe the most exciting news is bringing back Downer’s Grove! But really all the venues are great – what are some highlights?
MC: There is a lot of exciting news this year but Downers Grove is definitely a big one. It’s such a great course and was a shame that it went away. We were unsure if the Village would be open to bringing it back but were pleasantly surprised when the mayor said he was very excited to have it back. We had great help from many of the downtown organizations to pull it together.
The reaction to it has been immense. A lot of pros raced on it back when it was the national championship. Jonas Carney who is now the director at Optum is sending riders in part because of the Downers Grove course! John Vande Velde was the original course designer back in the 1980s.
Again our goal was to bring all the venues closer to Chicago, and bringing back the Willow Springs venue for our road race was a big part of that. And our Chicago Criterium is going to be a big highlight, now that we have added the Fyxation Open fixed gear crit!
CBR: The Series has really great sponsors. Tell us about your series sponsors and how you work with the club sponsors.
Intelligentsia has been a great title sponsor, thanks in no small part to Doug Zell and his support bike racing. He is so passionate about cycling and racing. We have added some new sponsors this year. SRAM has come on in a big way to support new racers by giving a Force 22 groupset to the omnium winners of the women’s 3/4 and master’s 3/4 categories. Zipcar and SIGMA are also sponsoring categories this year with their own Pactimo winner’s jerseys. And we just added Shinola with handmade watches for some of the amateur omnium winners.
We are also partnering with World Bicycle Relief as we are big believers in their mission and feel that our audience is in line with what they are doing.
The club promoters of races have been so great to work with, with each wanting to put on a first-class racing experience.
CBR: With the entire PSCS schedule within an hour or so of Chicago, the series championship is something anyone can do. Has that been an important consideration for securing venues?
Tom Schuler, one of our founders, was really behind making this series a truly Chicago series. He lived here when he was racing as a professional and even met his wife at a bike race in Logan Square, so he definitely has a soft spot or bike racing in the windy city!
It’s definitely more expensive putting on races in these bigger venues with nice amenities but we hope that racers will appreciate the experience we provide in these great environments.
CBR: Any parting thoughts?
We really want the Chicago racing community to embrace this series as their own. That is who we think of when we make decisions and we want them to be proud of their home series and that racers from around the country will make this highlight of their racing calendars.
Chicagoland’s premier cycling series is here!. With a great mix of established courses, new venues, and even resurrection of the famed Downers Grove Criterium, the Intelligentsia Cup is assured to be fantastic. Check out Doug Zell, a great advocate and supporter of Midwest Cycling, talk about Intelligentsia’s involvement in the Prairie State Cycling Series.
We’ve updated (finally!) standings including the Scarlet Fire TT (sorry for the delay). Not a major shake up but teams ought not ignore the time trials. We’ve got the PYOC 4-Person Team Time Trial Championshipcoming up September 9, 2014. The Pave Liga continues this weekend with the Winfield Crit, and the Prairie State starts next week!
CBR: Please tell us a little about yourself—how long you’ve been cycling, involvement in race directing, and the Chicago cycling scene.
I got into cycling after 10 years of competitive running, which ended my junior year of college in 2006. After that I raced my first season around Chicago, then one collegiately and in Belgium, and the domestic Pro/Am circuit and locally since then.
My involvement with race directing has been mostly just in a support role. My first priority has always been as a racer, but I’ve been getting more and more involved with helping ABD out in any way I can help.
I have been witness to the Chicago bike racing scene for 8 years now, and it has been dynamic for sure. The biggest changes that come to mind are the demise of Superweek, and the subsequent creation of Tour of America’s Dairyland and then the Prairie State Series. I think road cycling is ready for an upswing once again as it seemed to have 6 or 7 years ago.
CBR: You ride for Athletes by Design (ABD) Cycling Club , tell
us about the team and your teammates.
I’ve been with ABD for 4 years. These past two years we have had much of the same roster, consisting of a tight knit local based team with a good young rider base and a few veterans focused on developing the team through the ranks. We’ve had many category 2 upgrades the past two seasons and hope to continue to develop riders that compete with us, to that elite level. Adam Liebman, Brian Arfman, Konrad Witt, Dave Ross and Mike Wilkie are some of the recent upgrades into the world of Pro/Am racing.
CBR: Winfield is now in its 15th Year – and is ABR’s National Criterium Championship – that’s a great history. Tell us about your relationship with ABR and its mission.
ABR is the grassroots cycling foundation, and operates as a no frills, lower cost alternative to the mainstream USA cycling races. It was been a great relationship with ABR and the Winfield race weekend over the years, especially with being able to host as the Criterium National Championships for the organization. ABR’s mission continues to be based around these principles, and has been a great partner for the Winfield race.
CBR: The course is great, not your typical 4-corner crit – any recommendation on race tactics?
This course went from good to great with the addition of the extra turns on the uphill section. It caters to different types of riding abilities including climbing, technical descending and sprinting. The tactic that has usually played out has been a hard move over the top of the hill with a fast descent, setting your position up for the sprint which doesn’t see much change in placement after the final left hander. Coming through that last corner in second place, or with a gap off the front are both great positions to be in.
CBR: As we know these events don’t happen without sponsors—tell us about your sponsors.
Winfield couldn’t happen without the support of a number of people and companies. Obviously I need to start with Prairie Path Cycles which is the title sponsor of the ABD team and the Winfield race. PPC has been in Winfield for over 20 years and owner/managers Mike Farrell and Mary Lee Geraghty play a key part in all of ABD’s events. And of course none of our events would happen without ABD’s awesome team of volunteers that help the events run smoothly and safely. Rich Johnson for the Winfield Criterium website, the event committee, the Redlich’s, the Witt’s, Cannella’s, Lisa Pena, the list goes on and on! This is our third year working with Advocates of the Riverwalk. Their mission to improve the community, enchanting the new bike pathgoing through Winfield, makes them an exciting partner to work with.
CBR: What else should we know about the race? I know last year there were some great event activities other than bike racing going on…
This is a party race! Coming back this year we have a BMX stunt show going on all day long in Oakwood park, a kids race at 3:50pm and also as in years past the neighborhood really gets involved with front yard picnics and crowd premes. There is also a free bike raffle for two bike giveaways and to promote bicycle safety. To receive up to 6 tickets, entrants just need to complete the Illinois Bicycle Safety Quiz Challenge at www.bikesafetyquiz.com
We’ve got two great weeks of racing coming up. First, this Saturday, July 12th is the Winfield Criterium - ABR National Championship p/b ABD. And then we’ve the got the Intelligentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series with 8 days of excellent Chicago-area racing. Both events have pre-registration ending this Thursday, July 10th so get registered.
Tower Racing is hosting race 4 of Prairie State, the Willow Springs Road Race on Wednesday, July 23rd. They are looking for volunteers to come out and help with course marshaling, set up, tear down, and other help during race day. Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, friends—any body willing to lend a hand, their help will be greatly appreciated! There is a sign up page on the Tower Racing website.
After a run of north of the border races, the Pavé Liga heads back to sunny Illinois for this weekend’s Winfield Criterium on Saturday, July 12th. This is the ABR National Criterium Championships, and the 15th annual race put on by ABD. Not only are you racing for the glory of the ABR Stars and Stripes jersey, but the prize purse is a very legit $7500+. Registration is open until Thursday, July 10th - and here’s the map.
Two more ToAD races - Downer Ave and Tosa Gran Prix - added to the Pavé Liga standings. And more reshuffling as the Wisconsin teams move up. Team Wisconsin moves up +6 places into the Top 10. xXx may have a strangle hold on the top spot, but the rest of the standings are really wide open. With Winfield Cirterium and Prairie State coming up, there are a lot of race opportunities.