Back to the Future, a Race Revived

Intelligentsia Cup - Tour Of Glen Ellyn 2016

It’s 1972 and the townsfolk of Glen Ellyn have removed their chevvy vegas and olds cutlass’ from the roads around their pretty, eponymous lake, to make way for a bike race.
Some of the houses fronting the course sport Nixon signs, not many McGovern ones. The high school is closed for the summer, its lofty towers empty. The kids are at the pool, or dazed and confused smoking weed behind the library.

The riders are tuning up their 6 speed Campagnolo or Huret gears, pumping up their silk tubs, tweaking the 36 spoke aluminium hoops that cost a weeks paypacket. Short shorts and wool jerseys are sported as the shaggy haired riders line up helmetless astride their steel machines to take on the course….

It's 2016 and I’m in the middle of a three wide cornering pack on the same course. I’m banging through the sram shifts while praying my GP4000s hold. A stench of pads on carbon rims pervades, as the colorful helmeted lycra clad pack race on up the hill astride carbon frames. Kids are playing pokemon go, while trump and clinton signs are a rare sight in a few of the immaculate gardens. The residents japanese and german cars are re-exported to side roads for the day.

So it’s back to the future today at the 70s revival of the Tour of Glen Ellyn. Unlike that simpler time this course isn’t simple. It’s impressively long and tough, with a technical layout of turns and hills in beautiful parkland around the lake. And it’s hard to get right. Some of the turns are downhill chicanes, the hills are little kickers that exhaust, there’s a 120 turn with a high curb to watch for by the high school, a pinching roundabout, a rough road on the fast downhill sweeper, oh and a U turn at the fastest point on the bottom end of the course. As a challenge it’s up there with the Glencoe long course, maybe beyond. They didn’t mess about in the 70s.

My race is stacked with solid mid-west contenders and a few from further, and they pace up the opening laps. Nobody wants to yield, so it’s 3 wide and hairy through turns, going so deep on the tires, bumping shoulders on occasion. After a few laps I’m feeling exhausted and slipping back in the pack. I take a gamble on the so called gamblers hill, a lung-bursting lunge up to first place and then racing line round the bend to the start finish. I’m back in contention and glad I made that move, as soon the sound of crashing carbon hits my ears. Don’t look, do go hard. This race is terrifying and awesome.

Coming up to the bell lap I’m maybe 5th wheel. Two go down ahead on the last turn. A sickening spill, and a front wheel shoots across the road still attached to shattered forks as I go by. Big crash. Up to the high school jinking right left over the roundabout then under the trees at full gas down to the U bend. 3 wide of course and I’m in the third row of riders. After some inevitable argy bargy I’m on the outside - where I don’t want to be, and take the turn bracing for dubious lines wiping me out. Make it round using the gutter and I’m locked on the wheel ahead, but the gambling money is going around on the left as we turn up the hill. I’m blocked and losing places by the second. Wait, there’s a sliver of space on the right opening up, a got wind rider sees it and accelerates into it. I follow and get back some slots before the last turn. Turn hard and sprint my exhausted body over the line in 8th.

It’s been a privilege to ride this revived old course, imaging the old champions and 70s heros who preceded us, and the superb challenge they established - so different from many modern 4 corner three quarter mile flat criteriums. So vivre this tour, lets keep it out of the vault from now on.

P8 of 50+ starters
~Bevan Brookfield


Love Thy Local Trail System

Love Thy Local Trail System

As a Chicago based team, mountain bike riding can be quite the challenge.  Our nearest trails are in Willow Springs at the Palos Forest Preserve.  Here's a fun fact, there are people that build and maintain them for our enjoyment!  They are CAMBr, the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers, and these volunteers giving their time and effort are the reason we have these trails to ride. 

So perhaps you ride regularly or were convinced to take your cx bike to give a it try a few times, in either case you know that when you go, you just park and ride.  No fee for parking or trail pass to purchase.  What a world!  Well here is our pitch:  support the work CAMBr is doing by becoming a member (basic is $35).  CLICK THIS LINK  

Trees fall and they clear em, berms created, and trails fixed (when those bad peeps ride them while wet and create terrible ruts).  In the last year alone, major developments on a new trail, Stonehouse, further connecting and extending the current system have taken place.  Check it out on this new map.   They also host training rides, kids days, plan trips to other trails systems, as well as host the Palos Meltdown race.  Side note: you can also throw in some muscle on work days, create those trails you ride!  

We all know those nights spent staring at the radar are just as filled with days riding.  So take a few minutes and a few dollars and become a member.  Increasing the numbers also shows the powers that be how important these trails are to the cycling community and that our numbers are large.  This helps fortify the case that bike trails are good and should not be nixed.

Thank you for joining.  We look forward to seeing you out there.  Just make sure to check the conditions first. 

 Look at this fun stretch of Stonehouse.   How do think those rocks got there?  And look at this fallen tree on Turf, who is gonna clear it out? 

Look at this fun stretch of Stonehouse.   How do think those rocks got there?  And look at this fallen tree on Turf, who is gonna clear it out? 

3 Days, 3 Trails, 3 Words Each

A Memorial Day weekend ride report.

  • Alpine Valley - Elkhorn, WI
    • turns, chipmunks, climbing
  • John Muir, Kettle Moraine - Whitewater, WI
    • rocks, hikers, flying insects
  • Palos Forest Preserve - Willow Springs, IL
    • roots, two-way traffic, bbq's

Side notes:  Rode with several rad ladies, I'm always learning.  Copious amounts of ice cream enjoyed after each ride, as it should be.

~Erica C.


Once Again. Never again.

Monsters Of The Midway 2016 M1,2,3, race report.

Monsters of the Midway. I’ve done this race so many times, and yet I always ask myself why?
The course is basic, the surface is appalling, the prizes lean, there’s no neutral support, the wind always howls down the long midway dominating strategies and ruining attacks. Moan moan moan.

The reason I’m here, the reason everyone is here is because it’s here, in the heart of Chicago, at that precise moment in the season where everyone wants to race, is (just about) ready to race, needs to race. And hence everyone is here, making for a big competitive event you can test yourself against. So shut-up, harden (the fuck) up and line up.

I arrive in time to pay and register. Yes I decided, make that folded, into doing this thing at 10pm the night before. Actually, make that 10:20 after reviewing the tv weather forecast. Those lying sack of shit forecasters, they said nothing about the thunderstorm brewing up literally 10 minutes after I’ve committed and unloaded the bike. The weather radar looks like a Jackson Pollock, the sky darkens and wind is suddenly whipping around in every direction.

Too late to do anything now. Tents are blowing over and barriers on the course too, letting unaware motorists drive on. It’s not raining yet, we wait on the line freezing in the cooling breeze for the all clear and whistle.

By some miracle the winds drop, skies brighten, barriers are righted and we are off and racing. No rain.

Early pace is high and I’m struggling to keep up, but after a lap I’m warmed up and revving for action. The wind as usual seems to be a strong headwind in both directions. Down the straights the bunch snakes around, hunting for respite. Grit and gravel fly up from the gutters and riders curse each other, but we throw ourselves into the turns 3 wide glad the rain is holding off.

There are some classy riders here, Weather Channel have three and expect to dominate, Burnham are not so sure about that. Half Acre has one, and he’s holding 10th wheel with no expectations at all. Several riders flat out, one right in front of me. Nobody panics, hand up off to the side. I have my spare wheels in the median this year after last years calamity. Here's hoping they just sit there. Still no rain.

As usual there are drops in the pace that swap the order, as the back of the race swarms the front, followed by furious fightbacks. It’s fast and fun. I'm enjoying it.

An attack of six goes off, this looks dangerous, Weather Channel are weather making at the front. As teammates block I’m also working to improve my position and get thrown to the lead of the chase. A lung bursting pull up the straight, no help and we are up to the rear three who seem to have become detached. Gasping I roll off and let someone else mop up the rest. 4 to go.

One lap in shelter and I’m recovered and looking for better placing, in fact feeling pretty good. Up the gutter on the back straight, jink around the big pothole, avoid the hay bale marking a water filled chasm and hop back in line top 10 before the narrowing chicane around the center crossroad.

By monsters standards it’s only a small pothole, but hitting it blows my back wheel out instantly. Off to the right as I swear, brake and stop. No more free laps by now but maybe I can get back swap a wheel and get out in the time of the half lap I will miss. Astonishingly I think of all this in the moments it takes to pull up. Adrenaline surging I’m across the course and riding the grass back up to the wheel pit, all over the place on my flat. I grab my spare and throw it on - the ref yells me I have to chase as I sling the old wheel away - I’m off up the road in seconds but alas the bunch is past and I’m 100 yards behind by the time I shoot out onto the course. Maybe 10 seconds too late.

With two to go I’m pretty much screwed, but rushing on adrenaline so I chase hard burning it up. No dice, no way I can close the gap as the bunch revs up for the end. It’s the saddest bell lap I ever heard, looking like a dropped looser, which in many ways I am. I continue and finish, even mopping up a few riders who are shelled off the bunch as it charges to the line and a weather channel win. Final placing was 41/49.

So not much luck today but the 2016 road campaign is underway and I seem to be at least in the mix competitively.

And as for Monsters: once again, never again. See you next year.

~Bevan Brookfield

My Barry-Rube Report

My Barry-Rube Report

The old racer sat on the curb, legs splayed, right arm resting on the chubby medic's gloved palm as he rinsed gravel out of the old racer's elbow and hand. The old racer's face was recognizable, a face that exists in old photos of hobos or men standing next to penny farthings: "where was the tubular tire worn around the shoulders and why is he not sepia?" you would wonder except for the gaudy skin tight costume he was wearing, unzipped and shredded in places.

I was in a long line, in the upper third by my observation, slowly lumbering past, waiting to check my results. When it was my turn next, I realized I could've just checked for my placing online, with my phone, legs up, next to the pool back at the hotel and avoided this trope-a-dope procession.

The race was dusty and hot. Some kid, 19-24 years old, went 20 min faster than me for 36 miles. My 35mm file treads were nearly perfect for the terrain. I learned nothing.

~James Yoo