Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The End of Superweek?

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.


  1. Yes I believe Superweek is riding into the sunset. Not only is there less rider participation, but also spectator interest. Take Downer Ave. For example, 2 years ago the super week race stlli had a larger audience then the TOAD race (at least from my perspective), last year they were close to even. This year however there was no contest, TOAD had a much larger audience. This is very telling.

  2. The last Superweek I did was when we were both riding for Team Mack. They still had the premier venues, but the late starts and other organizational issues were starting to take a toll. It's hard to believe how this series has devolved. I saw a photo of the Cat 4/5 start at Downer, and I was shocked to see such a tiny field. I remember hearing about field limits being met in those races in the past.
    If Superweek does go away, maybe the WCA schedule can be rearranged, or added to, for the months after ToAD. Without Superweek, July is a pretty dead month.

    Glenn Butzlaff

  3. I had a feeling this was coming down the pike. I have been into Superweek since around '83. If I wasn't racing it, I was looking up results. In it's heyday I remember Lars Michaelson and George Hincapie going head to head for days on end. Really too bad to see races like The Lakefronts, Alpine Valley, Burlington Proving Grounds and on and on disappear. On the other hand, props to the America's Dairyland for seeing it coming as well.

    Long live racing in the summer in Wisconsin!! Cheers to Otto Wenz!!

  4. In my opinion Mike and Andy (aka 'The Garrisons') should have stuck to hawking cell phones at superweek venues. I've been at every superweek since the days of the race at the summerfest grounds, and watched riders like Lemond, Armstrong, Horner and other world class cyclists compete. If I were the Garrisons, I might want to consider selling the promotion rights to the 'TOAD' series now, before its value becomes completely worthless- that series is owned and operated by professional caliber people who know how to 'do it right'- they also happen to be passionate about cycling and bike racing as opposed to being just a couple of dudes with dollar signs in their eyes. While I can't substantiate the rumors I have heard- I'll repeat them anyway:
    - international riders promised appearance money but never paid
    - race payout checks bouncing, after a while people just started trying to go to the bank the checks were drawn on to get them cashed
    - lawsuits from municipalities and police departments for non payment of services
    - poorly run events/frequently late, etc.
    - rumor that Otto was never paid for selling the series
    - the series is now reduced to a caricature of its former glory- just look at the field sizes- nonexistent
    - half the series is in Illinois now, you can only piss off so many Wisconsin promoters and municipalities before you run out of local race venues
    - fist fights breaking out at meetings between the Garrisons and promoters.
    Its become pretty obvious to many that 'TOAD' is the future, and its only going to get bigger and better - superweek is the only bike racing series I know of that when you google the two words 'superweek', and 'lawsuit' simultaneously: that you can find something. I'm looking forward to a great 'Toad' series in 2012, maybe more race dates, large fields,
    elite fields, and professionally run events.
    Heck, even Brad the 'Toad' announcer is better than Eddy, even if he was born before the movie 'breaking away' was filmed (sorry Eddy)

  5. The Superweek series was great this year, last year and the year before. As on time as any other race and great venues. You have to remember there were 4 major races against SW this year and 9 days of extreme heat or storms. Its very easy to look out of your office window and say I think I will skip today. We need to be more positive and support SW as well as all racing in the area. If SW were to go away it would be a huge loss to us.

  6. Wow, is all I can say to the people speading false rumors! I have race SUPERWEEK for the last twenty three years and now that I am a Masters rider I believe that my prospective is very accurate. 1. I have always enjoyed this great series
    ( SUPERWEEK ) 2. No International Riders have ever been paid? 3. I nor any rider on my team has ever had a problem with a check clearing. 4.The SUPERWEEK events are very well run, better than TOAD! 5.The TOAD promotors are just pissed that Otto wouldnt sell them the race. Stop this BS, it's not good for the sport.