Flatlandia Pulls the Plug on Leland Kermesse

Feb 6
Filed in: Interviews, Race news,

Comments (7)
Bad news: one of the most popular races on the calendar has run its course. Flatlandia has decided to pull the plug on the 2013 edition of the Leland Kermesse, much to the chagrin of racers much more robust than me. I was fortunate to have suffered a concussion a week before the 2012 edition of the race, and was therefore not allowed to participate. Even though I was never fond of the 100mph winds, rain, and gravel, I am fond of the people putting the race together, and that’s why I always vowed to try again next year. One of those who worked hard to make the race happen was Berwyn’s own David Pilotto. I was able to get the attention of this excellent VW mechanic (seriously) and get his take on what happened. Dave, how did you get the idea to run this type of race, and what made you think anyone would want to race it? Leland started as Jason Wagner’s idea, he used to promote a race in paw-paw IL and he loved the area and thought of putting on a truly IL road race. After studying google maps he found what looked to be a cool circuit in a small town named Leland. We packed our bikes and took a drive, after one lap we knew it was perfect. A few emails later, we had a race. It is a truly Illinois road race, wind, cornfields, gravel, flat roads, poor weather. So what the heck happened? After putting the race on for years we decided not to put it on in 2013. There was not one reason for this decision, just many factors that played into it. The race will not continue as a Flatlandia run race. Did you ever consider modifying the race? Yes, in 2012 we planned on making the race course continue east of the school, over a small wood bridge and through a farm field, but that would have added the cost of closing main street in Leland and paying the farmer to use his field, so we decided against it. Would it have helped if it were State RR? Probably not, but the timing would not work anyway, need to have the race early in the year, the farmers are very active June-August and it would not be a good time to host a safe race, we had a combine pull on the course and drive against the race direction, no one was injured but it was a crazy situation. Was it strictly a financial decision to pull the plug on the race? No, but the race is a huge strain on our club, we are a club of less than 40 people, it takes 50 or more to safely run this road race, last year Jason Wagner’s dad drove a lead car, and his wife worked registration. My wife drove from Berwyn to Leland just to drop off the lunch because we could not spare one person to pick them up. The O'Fallon race has 400 people working it. I am a saddened that the race was not embraced more by the local cycling community, we have our hardcore fans that do it every year and love it, but as a race it was never successful enough, monetarily. This was not an easy decision for me, Wagner or our team. Seeing the Kermesse develop from nothing was a great experience that changed my life. What's the biggest challenge you faced as a road promoter? Combines. No seriously there are many challenges, money being a big one. Registration was stagnant: racers numbered 225-245 people the past 2 years. We hoped and thought it would grow into a larger event. How big of a production was it to do the race? For a small team like flatlandia, it was a huge production, I estimate 1,200 man hours for the whole race. What could racers have done to change this outcome? They could have encouraged more fellow racers and teammates to come to Leland. That being said, even if we had 1500 racers every year there is no guarantee the race would have continued, because the demise of the Kermesse is not all about money or numbers. Did the race make money? Very little, $0.66 per man hour in 2012. We were very close to losing money in 2012. If we went into the red this year it comes out of mine and Wagners pocket, and we are both poor ass motherfuckers. Why did you do it? Because we love bike racing and wanted to display our idea of what bike racing in Illinois is. What about next year We have plans for something, I can't go into details, but flatlandia don't fuck around. What was the best part about putting on the race for you? That people enjoyed something as simple as riding on gravel in the middle of nowhere. What was your favorite memory from the editions of Leland so far? Watching everyone race in the worst conditions with a smile. *** So there you go, Leland no more. While there will be better news ahead and soon, what Dave says I'm sure resonates with every other promoter.



Feb 5

10:35 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This makes me sad but I understand the difficulty of putting on a road race with a small team.  A big thanks to Pilotto and Wagner and the rest of Flatlandia for putting on a great race.  It was one of my favorite races, for sure.  I’ll always remember the year I finished DFL in the 1/2 race but still finished on the podium because everyone else was DNF. 

An honest question:  could someone please tell me why Barry Roubaix is drawing 2500+ riders and the Kermesse is only drawing several hundred?  Is the scenery that much better?  I’ve never done Barry Roubaix so I don’t know.


Feb 6

8:07 am

smetz (Sammy's Elite)

You don’t need a USAC license and its sponsored by a brewery with a big party and swag toss afterwards. That’s why.


Feb 6

8:23 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (VQ)

Did anyone check to see if Druber is OK with this decision? He’ll be one sad mofo…

Seriously, it’s too bad but 100% understandable. I handled a small part of Grayslake Cycling Classic (financials, payouts, general management) for Darin Minter who did the lion’s share. And even that part was really time consuming. I hope your next edition in 2014 is amazing. Thanks for running it all these years.


Feb 6

8:34 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

If there is a 2014 version of Leland, it will not be with Flatlandia as the promoter, according to Dave. “We will not be a part of Leland RR going forward”.


Feb 6

10:18 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Unattached)

The men and women of Bicycle Heaven can’t thank the fine folks from Flatlandia enough for putting this race on the last couple of years.



Feb 7

12:49 pm

psimet's avatar

psimet (PSIMET - hell on wheels.)

Thanks Jason and David and the rest of the Flatlandia crew for all the hard work.  I have loved the race.


Feb 11

8:21 am

Spartacus (Team Beer'd)

Of all my results from last year, getting 2nd at Leland was the hardest and most rewarding. I’m glad to have raced it each year.
It’s a shame that this race won’t be continuing.


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