Tour of America’s Dairyland contacted us in the spring about advertising on the site and I got really excited. First off they are big, high quality race, and wanted to draw racers from Northern California to their event. Second, I now live in Wisconsin, it’s a long sad story, so I get to wax poetic about the state I have lived in for the last year. It’s a win/win. Go Badgers!
The Tour of America’s Dairyland, commonly referred to as ToAD in NorCal, starts June 20th right on the heels of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. This eleven stage omnium, made up of nine crits and two road races, has taken over the midwestern part of the US calendar that was held by Superweek in the late 80’s and 90’s. All the races are located in or around Milwaukee, and the four National Criterium Calendar events at the front of this years schedule will ensure that racing will start off fast and furious for both the pro men and women.
ToAD, and before that Superweek, has traditionally attracted a strong NorCal contingent. Wisconsin has always been a cycling mecca and the multiday format is a great way to get a lot of racing done in a short period of time. The benefits include good money ($140k in cash and primes), solid event organization, and you will never get a better crowd than at the Downer Avenue Crit on Milwaukee’s Eastside. Think Manyunk Wall, but with no hill and more brats. The Downers Ave Crit is a massive party scene through tree lined streets adjacent to Michigan. The race culminates in a one lap prime during the men’s pro race which traditionally reaches over $7,000. The sprint finish a few laps later is purely a formality.
Due to the races close proximity to each other, they are all within 2 hours of Milwaukee, travel and housing are easy to manage. There are a couple of economical travel routes to get to the area. Southwest flies right into Milwaukee so you can get direct flights right out of SFO for $300 +/- round trip, not including your bike of course. If you think you can beat that, or have an airline preference, Chicago is an alternative option, and it’s a straight two hour drive from O’Hare to Milwaukee.
Summer in Wisconsin is hard to beat. The weather will range from hot and humid to perfect, and the food beer scene is one of the best. Due to Wisconsin’s status as an agricultural center there is a big emphasis on fresh, organic, and local ingredients throughout the restaurant scene. Many chefs hail from stints cooking in Chicago, one of the toughest gastronomic proving grounds in the US. If you are on a race diet just go for the beer. You can spend your entire trip trying a different micro brew every day. There are more options and less pretension than Portland. Many of them are so good they don’t even sell it outside Wisconsin, because they can’t keep up with local demand. (Our family favorite is New Glarus Moon Man.)
For newly minted Cat 1 & 2 men and women, and feisty masters riders, ToAD is great way to start Elite level crit racing. While the speeds never let up through the week, a rider can put the lessons they learn in each race to work the next day, and if needed, skip a day or two when needed to recover. Going to this type of Crit School will teach and enable NorCal riders to survive rough and tumble style of racing that is prevalent outside the NCNCA district. Not to be left out, Cat 3/4 men and women can also find races through out the series to test their NorCal riding skills against a set of fresh faced opponents. The organizers have a massive (90-ish %) junior discount in place too so if anybody is escorting young’uns, Thank You and God Help You.
If the crit’s don’t go your way there are two road races wedged in the middle of the week. Fair warning, the hills in Wisconsin are deceptive. They are not long but you my look at your Garmin after a hard 80 miler and find you’ve climbed 3000 feet despite never going over a hill more than 200 meters long. Regardless of how you fare riders will enjoy the fast ride over country roads where you may only see 1-2 cars over a three hour period.
It’s a cool event and I highly recommend it to racers of all levels. I want my NorCal Army to come and dominate so get over to registration and get the omnium discount or pick your favorite events. If a NorCalian could win the big prime in the men’s or women’s race at Downers Ave that would be worth a in depth profile, and a beer and brat of course.
Below is the sprint finish I took last year of Lindsay Myers break away with Kaitlin Antonneau. Lindsay lost the sprint but she destroyed the breakaway.
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