As one of the most well-respected bike races in the country, Intelligentsia Cup is a 10-day series of circuit races all over the Chicago area. The series brings us two circuit road races, including the Illinois State Championship road race in Elgin, and seven criteriums, concluding in Chicago at Goose Island Fulton Street for the William Blair Grand Prix. Riders receive points for each day’s placement (by category) throughout the series to compete for the omnium podium (overall race winner). The event as a whole is extremely well-organized and draws large fields of cyclists from all over the world, and each location has a bit of a block party feel as racing goes on throughout the entire day. We are definitely lucky to have an event of this caliber right in our backyard.
The William Blair Grand Prix at Goose Island Fulton Street is known as a fast course—essentially four easy corners on a flat course with most races ending in bunch sprints. My team, Spidermonkey Cycling, is the local partner for this final showcase of speed (each individual race has various local partners who help provide support and the volunteers who help make the events possible).
I make it a point a few times a year to see events from the other side, so instead of racing, I volunteered for packet pickup and course marshaling. I like trying new volunteer roles and have done everything from kayak support for a swim, to roaming bike support, to working a water station, to cyclocross course setup, to keeping spectators and racers safe at course crossings! It was a privilege to have a front row seat to the start/finish line action during my shift, and I was able to chat with people from all walks of life – explaining how crits work to first timers who came to ‘check it out’ to working on dance moves with a young lemonade sales-girl (good call – it was a hot one).
This year for the first time, a one-mile run preceded the final day of cycling races. There were about 90 participants and all proceeds benefitted Back on My Feet. Again, I didn’t participate in this one but volunteered for registration and packet pickup. It was fun to greet the runners before this lighthearted event…many participants were cyclists and some had a little fun and raced in full cycling kits and helmets. It is a course notorious for speed, so we were treated to a blazing sub-five-minute performance from the first winner of a race, I hope this returns as a staple opener to the great event.
Intelligentsia Cup series winners: Caroline Baur and Brandon Feehery
Mile run winners: Courtney Blackwell and David Pinsonneault