Beloit gets in gear for bike race
BELOIT Bicycle racers from around the world will converge in downtown Beloit on Thursday as part of a 17-day, 13-city international racing series.
The International Cycling Classic and Super Week Pro Tour professional bicycle races started Friday in Chicago and will continue over the next two weeks as the series makes its way to the Milwaukee area.
Each day's race is a little different, said Therese Oldenburg, an event organizer with Be Active Outdoors in Beloit, the local group organizing Thursday's events. Beloit's race is a criterium, which is an eight-tenths mile loop around downtown with race distances from 20 to 62 miles.
That offers an exciting experience for spectators because they're continuously seeing the racers, she said.
"At any point, you'll see excitement," she said.
The most fun will be at the finish line at State Street and Grand Avenue, she said.
Former professional cyclist and coach Mike Norton, who is helping organize the event, said he wanted to bring the race to Beloit to showcase the city's revitalization.
"What they've done to their city is perfect for a bike race," he said.
He's hoping to bring the event back next year for two days in Rock County.
Organizers expect more than 500 racers in the 17-day series, including several that will head off to the 2012 Olympics in London. Norton estimated four to eight Olympic hopefuls could be headed for Beloit.
Races start at 10 a.m. Thursday for the "weekend warriors," followed by intermediate racers, ending with the 100 kilometer (62 mile) professional race at 5:45 p.m. The pro race is about 75 laps and will take about two hours with racers reaching 30 mph, organizers said.
The public can test the race course in the Be Active Outdoors Community Challenge Ride at 5:15 p.m. The fundraiser will be three loops of the course. A free youth fun ride follows at 5:30 p.m.
TO LEARN MORE
For more information on the International Cycling Classic and Super Week Pro Tour professional bicycle races in downtown Beloit on Thursday, visit beactiveoutdoors.org. A detailed map is at bit.ly/BeloitBikeRaceMap.