Sharon hopes to be part of professional bike series
SHARON Think of bike racing as NASCAR on two wheels.
Except in NASCAR the drivers never get that nasty road rash that cyclists suffer when they hit the road.
On the other hand, their bikes never catch fire.
If everything goes as planned, local residents soon will have the chance to see professional road racing of the two-wheeled variety in Sharon.
“There’s still some work to be done before we have a road race,” said Marco Colbert, executive director of the Prairie State Cycling Series.
Such a race would require permission from—and the support of—county and public safety officials.
They already have the support of officials in Sharon.
“The board entered into a contract for 2013 to be part of the series in 2013,” said Diana Dykstra, village president.
No taxpayer dollars will be used for the event. Instead, the $10,000 needed will be raised through sponsorships,
Sharon is uniquely situated for such a race. The village board already has established a series of road routes as the “Sharon Cycling Series.”
Each route is marked, and the village received permission from the neighboring municipalities to install the signs with the series logo on it.
“It’s difficult to find a place for a road race like this,” Dykstra said.
The race would be part of a four-day series and would be divided into professional and amateur, and men’s and women’s divisions.
Amateurs might ride a specific route two times for 28- to 36-mile races. Professionals would ride the loop for a distance of 60 to 70 miles.
At the end of the day, organizers hope to have a criterium or “crit” in a loop through Sharon.
A criterium is a closed-course race of about a mile. Racers zip around the course at between 25 to 30 mph and have to manage the turns at top speeds—and in the middle of a pack of racers.
“Spectators see a lot of action,” Colbert said.
It’s that kind of action that causes Colbert to describe his sport as “NASCAR on two wheels.”
If the event does occur—and Colbert and Dykstra expect it will—it also would benefit the local economy and boost community morale. Residents are encouraged to come out for the race, and racers often stay at local homes. Spectators and racers’ families and friends increase traffic to local stores.
Dykstra said the village is working to develop a reputation as a cycling destination, and this would be another step toward that goal.