By Kristin Boza
Over 700 cyclists will descend upon the Dan Ryan Woods for friendly competition in the 9th annual Chicago Cross Cup Cyclocross bike race event on Sun., Oct. 8. Sponsored by Beverly Bike and Ski, 9121 S. Western Ave., the event is also a draw for spectators as it showcases the beauty of the Dan Ryan Woods to those from the community and from around the country.
Paul Weise, owner of Beverly Bike and Ski, sponsors the event and the Beverly Bike Racing team, which coordinates and participates in Cyclocross and other road races throughout the year.
Weise and his wife, Kathleen, have owned the popular bike business since 1996 — the store originally opened in 1921. Weise recounts many tales of the history of the shop. “One of the most common stories I hear from customers is how people in the 1920s and ’30s would spend their Sundays grabbing a Rainbow Cone and stopping into the shop to look at the Schwinns,” he said. “When I first bought the shop, I realized the basement had a whole section filled with unicycle parts, including stacks of tires and seat pads. I asked the old owner what that was about and he said the shop used to be the official repair center for Ringling Bros. circus.”
Beverly Bike and Ski sells quality bikes for all ages that are fitted to the riders. The expert staff of mechanics keeps all makes of bikes in top condition, providing tune-ups and repairs. The store also services cross country and downhill skis. Before buying the store, Weise was head mechanic of the bike and ski departments for Erehwon Mountain Outfitters. Beverly Bike and Ski store manager Mike Wurster has 20+ years in the biking industry.
Weise likes to see his Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors staying active, biking in spring, summer and fall, and skiing in the winter. The store rents and sells cross country skis and snowshoes, and support the Beverly Improvement Association’s winter ski outings in the Dan Ryan Woods. Weise’s community spirit does not stop there! The shop sponsors the American Cancer Society Walk and Roll, and is the major sponsor of BAPA’s Beverly Hills Cycling Classic.
Perfect Fall Spectator Sport
Cyclocross has a long history, dating back to the 1910s and ’20s. Tony Rienks, Beverly Bike Racing team member and coordinator of the local races for the annual Cyclocross event, which features a variety of racing challenges as riders compete on trails, up and down hills, and across an obstacle course-worthy variety of terrains.
Rienks is looking to make this year’s event bigger and better. “In the past, the people who came to our Cyclocross event were a part of the cycling community. Now, we’re trying to open it up to everyone in Beverly as a spectator sport,” Rienks said. “Our race is one out of a 12-race series, and we’re the one that has the hills. The best part is the spot in the race at 87th and Western, when you can see the downtown skyline from the top of the hill. It’s a beautiful feature for our riders.”
The races officially run between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and spectators can enjoy watching during any period of time. But Rienks thinks the best time to come out is between 2:30 and 4 during the slower-paced adult race. “When the beginners are out there, you will really see how well-supported these racers are. It’s truly a sport for everybody who might want to try something competitive.”
One unique Chicago tradition during Cyclocross is what is known as Hand Ups. Spectators can “hand up” an item — from a dollar bill to a jelly donut — for the riders to grab as they pass by.
“Some of the most common hand ups are bacon and Twizzlers. Why do we do it? Who knows why, it’s just because! It’s about the spectators recognizing the rider making an effort and trying to give them something silly; the crowd starts cheering once the rider takes the item,” Rienks said.
Find details and a race schedule for the local Cyclocross events at chicrosscup.com/race/dan-ryan-woods/. Shop at Beverly Bike and Ski 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon., Tues. and Thurs.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat.; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun. Closed Wed.