Cycling enthusiasts and athletes of all ability levels will head to Glencoe this Saturday for the ninth annual Glencoe Grand Prix, part of the USA CRITS series, for a day stacked with races and competition.
The event, which benefits the Glencoe Educational Foundation and features criterium races for junior, masters, hand, Category 1-5 and professional cyclists, keeps athletes engaged with a varied course to provide a unique challenge to participants.
“Our morning races are geared towards beginners and run on a short course with more of a traditional criterium loop in downtown Glencoe,” race director Matt Giedt says. “The afternoon races are geared towards experienced racers using a long course that involves a little bit of everything with some fast downhill turns and an uphill section. It really keeps our racers on their toes throughout the entire race.”
Due to course design, those watching criterium events usually only see riders once per lap. However, the long course at the Glencoe Grand Prix features a spectator-friendly triangle in the back half of the course, making it possible to see riders twice in one lap.
“That area allows you to see them going west and on the way back east,” Giedt says. “That area’s also near the top of the hill climbs, and you can see the pain on the racers’ faces. You can very clearly see how hard everyone’s working.”
The day closes out with women’s Pro/1/2 and men’s Pro/1/2 races, which will bring in a variety of talent from the cycling racing world. Of particular local interest, the women’s race will include the debut of the composite Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling team.
“A lot of major teams that race across the country and have the top racers in the country will come to this event,” Leah Sanda, team manager for CWEC, says. “Our girls, who are very strong locally in Chicago, have struggled to find a way to be effective when they get into these races, lining up with the top pro women who have full squads of six riders.”
CWEC will work with a director, who will give the riders guidance and a race strategy to help them compete as during the event. Coming up with a plan to deal with attacks and counterattacks during the race will allow the team to work more effectively as a unit than each rider could work on her own.
“Bike racing on the road is a team sport,” Sanda says. “Most people don’t realize that.”
CWEC will also host its seventh development clinic of the year the day before the race in conjunction with the Pepper Palace Pro Cycling team. The clinic, which takes place from 6-8 p.m. at the Glencoe Fire House (325 Hazel Ave.) on May 29, will focus on race tactics for the Glencoe Grand Prix’s course. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. on-site, and a $20 donation is suggested.
The Glencoe Grand Prix concludes with a block party that will feature music from Pilot Rouge and 16 Candles along with food trucks, 312 beer from Goose Island and a inflatable bounce house for children. The block party begins at 5 p.m.
For those unable to make it to Glencoe for the event but still interested in watching the racing, all afternoon events will be broadcast live on the Internet starting at 12:30. To see a full schedule of the day’s events, visit www.glencoegrandprix.com.