All through the 1990s, when I was living in New York, I'd drive home and stay with my sister Teena in Milwaukee and race Superweek. I started in the 4s, moved on to the 3s, then found some success in the 40 plus division by the time I lived in Wisconsin.
Superweek - now called the International Cycling Class - was THE race in the midwest and in the country. The pros got 17 days of hard racing, and the rest of us had big fields, challenging courses, and the feel of being "pro" for a week.
The who's who of pros who have raced here is endless, including Armstrong, Horner, and Cadel Evans.
In the last few years, Superweek has earned itself some bad reviews: racers not receiving prize money or having checks bounce, cities and towns not getting paid for using their facilities, police departments not getting promised payments. The race lost some very cool venues because of this. I don't know enough of the causes of the problems to cast blame. As a racer, I only know what I've experienced.
Half of the racing has moved to Illinois, and even those courses are struggling.
The organizers of the Tour of America's Dairyland have brought in a well-organized, tightly-run stage race, in contrast to the Superweek of the past.
And this year, the reputation - and ToAD - has clearly had an impact. This year the fields have been small, really small. My fields in the masters 4/5 have been between 8 and 15. The Whitnall Park Road Race had about 25 since it was the only Wisconsin road race and had double points for the overall. The race paid 12 deep today with 12 riders.
The women's 3/4 field today had FOUR riders. Even the pro men's field, with the exception of Downer, has been very small.
Clearly, the Superweek organizers must be hemorrhaging money. It's a sad event that Superweek has been run into the ground. I'd be sorry to see it go. We are lucky in Wisconsin to have so many racing available to us.
I can't see how the race can be rescued. Maybe a week-long event? Maybe an Illinois event?
In the event I used to race, the masters 1, 2, 3, we usually had fields of 80 to 120 guys. Riders would come from all over the country for some of the best racing outside of nationals.
Yesterday, in the Whitnall RR, there were 23 finishers.
An era of great racing in Wisconsin appears to be on its last breath.