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Thursday, May 29, 2008

O'Fallon Grand Prix

The Metro-East Cycling club will be putting on its first-ever O'Fallon Grand Prix this Saturday, May 31.

The start-finish line for the races will be in front of Fulton Junior High School, which is located at 307 Kyle Road in O'Fallon, Ill. Racing will begin at 11 a.m., and participants can sign up for the event starting at 8 a.m. and continuing until 30 minutes before the start of each scheduled event.

The event is the biggest cycling race in St. Clair County since the mid-1990s, when a leg of the Gateway Cup series of bicycle races was run in the Signal Hill neighborhood of Belleville.

The Elite Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 race will begin at 11 a.m. and will cover 90 miles. Races also will be available in other men's categories, masters' categories, women's categories and junior categories. In addition, kids races from tricyclists to bicyclists ages 11-14 will begin at 10 a.m.

"It'll be really fun for people who enjoy bike racing," race director Steven Schmidt, secretary of Metro East Cycling, told the Belleville News-Democrat. "Our course is exciting. It's all on country roads. It's fast, hilly and twisty."

That's true. The map of the course shows all the twists and turns, and I can tell you from personal experience, there are hills on the course!

Racers should be aware of one major hazard on the course. There's a bridge on Simmons Road between Bethel School Road and Kyle Road that has cracks parallel to the length of the bridge. The cracks are wide and deep enough to grab a road wheel and can cause a serious spill. Racers need to be careful to position themselves between the cracks while going across the bridge.

Metro-East Cycling has worked hard on this event. One of the biggest challenges the club faced was getting approval from the O'Fallon City Council. The council did unanimously approve the event at its April 7 meeting, but with the caveat that the police chief has authority to close down the event if the insurance is not provided, communications concerns are not met or not enough volunteers are present.

From what I understand, it sounds like Metro-East Cycling has all its ducks in a row, so let the racing begin Saturday morning!

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