4 Hours from Chicago

Some emphatic captions about a four hour trip from Chicago Illinois to Burlington, Iowa (Birthplace of Aldo Leopold) to watch the Snake Alley Criterium

Oh Iowa – You always surprise us with your charms!

Four Hours from Chicago park your car in Burlington, Iowa on any side street surrounding the 33rd annual Snake Alley Criterium. You walk and find the “White Pearl” otherwise known as the rehabilitated Warren Nassau House just off the steeper parts of Heritage Hill. You are asked to come in and share food and listen to the band. Women holding pots of beans, men carrying in 12-packs and fruit salads introduce themselves as they search for a place to drop off their pot-luck contributions. Yes, Iowans are so nice they make your acquaintance while they carefully prepare dinner, hors d’oeuvres and carrying crockpots full of hot beans. Before you leave the historic house, a elderly women crosses the room and pours a jar full of cornichons on a plate of tiny vegetables while she proclaims “done!” You walk away thinking you love Iowa or even America as if this moment redeems everything you know about the world and summer sausage.

Women’s Elite Podium: Chloe Dygert – Rosemary Penta – Gwen Inglis

Four Hours from Chicago you find yourselves watching the different categories of racers on the twisting ascent of Snake Alley. This steep hillside containing beautifully arrayed limestone and blue clay bricks flows into several sweeping switchbacks for 275 meters. This incredible lane constructed by the efforts of Charles Starker, William Steyh and George Kreichbaum in 1898 has been the focal point of this race for 33 years. For 2015, 18 year old Chloe Dygert (TWENTY 16 Devo Presented by Sho-Air) paid homage to this wonder of midwestern landscape architecture on the second lap by riding away and lapping most of the field. On each climb she sits in the saddle – never missing a stroke – never a hesitation in the relentless pursuit for the win. Not to be outdone, Rosemary Penta, Gwen Inglis, and Danielle Arman (Tenspeed Hero) applied persistent pressure on the dwindling field to form an escape of their own to round out the top four spots. (A thought: TSH dreams of the day Chloe races in Belgium for the USA in the women’s Tour of Flanders)

Dreaming of a full vibrant Burlington! Or lovely just the way you are!

Four hours from Chicago you see Burlington across the Great River Bridge which spans the Mississippi River to nearby Illinois. German, French, English, Irish, African American and many more built a beautiful city of majestic brick towers of commerce and limestone townhouses. Churches dot corners every other block and alleys mostly forgotten weave the city together. The city bustled for 100 + years before it slowly lost people and jobs. Giant lofts and offices sit empty and parts of this city on this day of racing appear eerily quiet. Every alley, every empty building, every new business trying to make something happen for this community has a story. Four hours from Chicago, a 65 year old women who is attending one of the intersections for the course says good morning, in fact almost every course official says hello with many using the time to query where you are from. Four hours from Chicago a lost party of Junior boy racers with shaved legs and space age POC helmets and sunglasses look like visitors from another planet seeking friendship at a giant Iowa block party. They are welcomed.

Abby Ruess from ISCorp!

Quentin Valongnes From France!

Dani Arman from Tenspeed Hero!

#1 Pain Face is Andrew Nordyke From Chicago’s Cuttin Crew!

Winner of the Cobble Climb and Record Holder Sophia Robinson!

The race ends like all races end with conversations with fellow racers. “Hello, I am Dani Arman…” My name is Rosemary Penta” “This is Luke” All of this Just four hours from Chicago.