Intelligentsia Cup 2018: The Photographs (Part I)

This is the second entry in our multi-part coverage of the Intelligentsia Cup race series in Chicago, Illinois. For the introduction to this coverage check out this journal entry. Stay tuned to the journal for the second half of our image galleries later this week and a full retelling of our experiences racing Intelligentsia Cup from the perspective of Seb and Cullen (#feelings) in the coming weeks.

Returning from Intelligentsia Cup and going through my hard drive I quickly reached two conclusions. First: I may have taken a few too many photographs over the course of ten days of racing in the Windy City. In fact I brought home more than three thousand images which I cut down to just over six hundred selects that we'll share on the Journal in two parts - this is the first half of the week extending from Friday's Beverly Hills Cycling Classic and concluding with the leg-breaker climb at the West Dundee River Challenge (aka "RIP anyone who is not a climber"). Stay tuned for Part II on the TBD Journal shortly.

My second and perhaps more meaningful realization was that for our group of teammates and friends the Intelligentsia Cup experience was at its core a weird, exciting, and exhausting family road-trip. Alongside teammates and a few friends we traveled halfway across the country, stayed in somewhat questionable lodging and spent each day getting to play professional bike racer with and against some of the toughest competition in the country. There were nights where we perhaps had a few too many drinks and others where we got on each others nerves with minor annoyances, but that is to be expected while living in close quarters on a family road trip (never-mind the fatigue of racing day in and day out). Against that backdrop these images form a family album of sorts, capturing memories on and off the bike that are far too numerous to re-tell in text form. Some of these images will only make sense to those we shared the journey with but I added a bit of text about each day of racing for context. 

Given the nature of our schedule at Intelligentsia Cup and the fact that I was both racing and shooting these photographs are generally focused on those races in most immediate proximity to our own fields - apologies to those who raced early in the morning while we were still at our AirBNB stumbling out of bed and making coffee. Our fellow racers are welcome to share these images on their personal social media feeds with credit to @ToBeDetermined.cc - if you're up for it give us a follow while you're at it.

And just to say it once again - we're indebted to all of the staff and volunteers that helped make the most recent edition of Intelligentsia Cup possible. It is a unique event and we were excited to once again experience it. Stay tuned for more on Intelligentsia Cup shortly.

Beverly Hills Cycling Classic

Coming out of the car after the thirteen hour drive from New York City there were a few things on my mind. If I am honest none of them involved racing bikes in the rain at the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic, especially after a sleepless night at a hotel in Central Ohio. Beverly featured a great looking course with an even better looking expo setup at the finish line but my mind and body just weren't in the place to race in the weather conditions in store for us and with nine days of racing yet to come I was pretty okay with that fact. So Chris and I bailed early to get checked into our suburban Chicago AirBNB and do some openers while watching Netflix. As a result our Beverly Hills Cycling Classic photo gallery is definitely abbreviated but there is a more complete gallery over on the Intelligentsia Cup website for those interested. Also, while you're at it this video from Carlo Quicho captures some of the spice of the first day of racing.

Lake Bluff Criterium and Block Party

As we wrote about in our Intelligentsia Cup Race Guide the Lake Bluff Criterium and Block Party is one of our favorite days at Intelligentsia Cup. The course is a blast to race, Lake Bluff's downtown has great food and drink options, and the community comes out to support the event en masse. It is an intoxicating combination that served as our first full day of racing at Intelligentsia Cup following a rainy Friday evening at Beverly.

Unfortunately results at Lake Bluff were hard to come by thanks to a whole variety of factors (excuses are easy to make and very boring to write about) but we still had a great day of racing and met some new friends from the Midwest that helped us cheer on our teammates later in the day. Topped off with a few cold beers and a feast of carry-out deep dish pizza at our AirBNB it was easy to move past a tough day results wise and focus on the races still to come at Intelligentsia Cup.

Dennis Jurs Memorial Road Race (Elgin)

For some of the fields Sunday's Dennis Jurs Memorial Road Race may have been the toughest racing of the entire Intelligentsia Cup Series. Early in the week legs were still fresh, there were a plethora of state championships on the line and with the longer road race duration implemented this year the corners and climbs were guaranteed to sap the energy out of your legs over dozens of miles of racing.

This was certainly true for the M3 field that seemed to maintain a criterium-like pace for the majority of the fifty miles of racing. The squad suffered mightily as a result but Seb and Steve held tough for pack finishes in their race while in the M2/3 Tom scored a 12th place finish. Unfortunately we also lost CityMD Women's Racing's Lisa Vandivort for the rest of the week after a rider crashed in front of her and Lisa broke her wrist in the resulting tumble (which also cut my day of shooting the race short as we rushed to urgent care). Fortunately on the opposite end of the spectrum Friend of the Team™️ Taylor Kuyk-White scored a very exciting podium in her W2/3 field to bring a bit of balance to the day.

Autobahn Country Club Road Race (Joliet) 

Monday's Autobahn Country Club Road Race was a new addition to the Intelligentsia Cup, replacing the Willow Springs Road Race that made Chris internet famous for his post-race crash sadness. As a venue it was actually a pretty chill setup with nice bathrooms a somewhat conveniently located concession stand and a nice little viewing platform where we hit from the sun and got an overhead look at the finishing straight. Racing on the flat and wide-open auto course limited the opportunities for aggressive breakaway riding but Steve rolled the dice and put in a big late race solo move before it came back together for a field sprint where Clay delivered the team its first podium of the series. Later in the day Matt survived a big pile-up in the M2 race to add a top ten to the team's tally on the day. It may not have been the most dynamic day of racing but we walked away from the Autobahn Country Club Road Race with our first momentum of the week.

South Chicago Kermesse Road Race

South Chicago was a tough day at the races for the squad. Not due to the course - which with wide open roads and a pancake flat elevation profile made for pretty negative racing strategies, especially after two days of long road races on Sunday and Monday. And not due to results as Clay and Chris scored a pair of top 10's in the M3 while Cullen brought home 4th in his race. Rather it was a tough day because Sweet Baby Seb (aka SBS) hit the deck at thirty-five miles per hour after his tire exploded during a mid-race prime. The resulting road rash, covering a frightening amount of his skin, ended his racing at Intelligentsia Cup and certainly added a bit of disappointment to an otherwise pretty successful day of bike racing on the edge of Lake Michigan. We'll definitely be back to South Chicago as it is a fun little bike race, but for the record we do still wish South Chicago was a criterium duration event.

West Dundee River Challenge

Finally after three largely successful days of road racing we were excited to get back to the short, high intensity racing of criteriums that we know and love. However Wednesday's West Dundee River Challenge brought a different sort of challenge with the infamous leg-breaker climb that the event is known for. In fact that climb is infamous enough that the squad's fatbois (myself and CPJ) decided to sit the day out well in advance. Instead we spent the day refueling with cinnamon rolls and beer (a weird combination) while cheering on pain-faced teammates from the shade alongside the climb.

As expected it was a brutal day of racing but Tom made the break in the M2/3 field and despite rolling his tire on the last lap managed to stay away from the peloton to finish sixth. Meanwhile earlier in the day Cullen and Steve scored a pair of twelfth place finishes in their respective fields. Unfortunately Friend of the Team™️ Mark Steffen hit the deck in his race (he escaped with minor road rash) but overall it was a pretty excellent day at the races topped off by a massive feast of BBQ at Corey's parents house just south of Chicago. Good friends, good food and hard racing is kind of the epitome of why we drive halfway across the country to Intelligentsia Cup

That's it for Part I of our Intelligentsia Cup image galleries. Stay tuned to the Journal as we have much more coming out in the next few weeks as road season winds down and we start to turn our eye to cyclocross.