Riding home from work the other day along Lake Michigan, I came upon not one, but two organized cyclocross practices. For the past several years, the #CX365 meme has been a bit of a joke, but if these mid-June scrimmages are any indication, it has become the New Normal here in our little corner of the cycling universe. Rather than bemoan these facts, or gesticulate wildly towards the unquestionable radness of something like ToAD, these days I just choose to acknowledge that things have indeed changed, and carry on. And of course, as someone who rides a FGCX bike year-round, I don’t suppose any amount of soap boxing or finger wagging would be appropriate.
One very promising change I’ve noticed in recent years has been the increased interest in all manners of so-called “adventure” cycling, a term that has been adopted within the industry to describe everything from expedition touring to cake rides to bike camping to 24 hour mountain bike races. The fundamental concept of using one’s bicycle to explore new places, meet new people, and experience the unknown is hardly novel, but it’s great to see folks who’ve entered the discipline through the narrow lens of competition discover this world. It’s sometimes hard to remember that there are things to do on a bicycle other than riding to work or racing around in rectangles.
Meanwhile, organized events continue to evolve. Another category that sometimes experiences semantic hand-wringing is the Gran Fondo. The midwest has been a bit slower than other regions to catch the Fondo fever, and in previous years friends who’ve followed the trend have mostly ridden in California, New York, and Colorado. But the folks at Higher Gear have devised a most interesting event this year which pairs cycling with baseball and BBQ and country music. The Gran Fondo Hundo press release might have read like an Onion article a few years ago (“Make sure you pack a pair of cowboy boots and a faded pair of blue jeans for after the ride,” “you’ll enjoy country music themed fireworks before being transported back to Wilmette, where you will be rejoined with your bicycle.”) but these days, who wouldn’t expect to pay $200 for a hot shower, bus ride home, and fully supported ride complete with gourmet cuisine? August 2.
On the other end of the spectrum comes the Fyxation Open, an exhibition fixed gear criterium held as part of the Prairie State Cycling Series. Rumors of this event have been swirling all summer, and as a fan of Red Hook, I’m intrigued with what the promoters have in mind and hope to achieve. I’ll be posting an interview shortly with Ben Ginster of Fyxation where he talks about how he envisions the crit, and where he’d like to see fixed gear street racing evolve here in the midwest over the coming years. July 26.
Once upon a time, late summer crit racing was all the rage in the midwest. And I suppose in some corners, it still is. The Winfield Crit has played an important part of that history for well over a decade, boasting a fun and technical course, large payouts, huge local support, and traditionally stacked fields. Previous winners include Kelly (Benjamin) Fisher-Goodwin, Bryce Mead, Robbie Ventura, Josh Carter, Christy Keely, Jessi Prinner, and Mike Sherer. The event’s popularity and prestige has dipped in recent years, but for 2014 there’s been a big push to reposition Winfield as a premier race on the midwestern road calendar. I’ll be leading a ride out to the course from Chicago that day, and I hope to see many of you there! July 12.