During the Fox River Grove Crit this May, I was approached by Norge Ski Training center and asked if there might be a chance to host a cross race on the Norge Ski Jump property this fall. The idea of hosting a cross race at a ski jump was too much of an enticement to pass by.
Early on it was apparent that this race would not be in the Chicago Cross Cup series. The series was as big as it was going to get, and even with Northbrook in the “maybe” column once again it was pretty apparent that the idea of PSIMET having 2 races in a successful series wasn’t going to sit well with a lot of others.
We briefly flirted with trying to hand the venue to the Northbrook crew, but upon talking with the Norge organizations it became apparent that they eventually would like to take over control of the race completely. “Show us how to do it,” was the central message during our meetings.
Right off the bat I took Wayne Simon out there and we invited Rich Delgado out as well. We scoured the property to find how we thought we could put together something that might work. Amazing, what happens when you put a bunch of Cross “Nerds” together to talk about a course. We did a lot of half sentences, invented new words, and a lot of pointing and sound effects. Nothing written down but we all understood.
The result is a course that is challenging. We had a layout in mind, but I just got back from Louisville – USGP this last weekend…so I had to make some changes. I went out there Monday night in the complete dark with a bike light and re-mapped 60-70% of the course. Everything looks different in the dark.
We now have a course that can be described as follows:
Staging starts in the parking lot in the NorthEast corner of the property. The start will be EXTREMELY fast as we start on a mix of pavement and it’s downhill. The starting straight runs the entire length of the field and is fast. We’re looking to rent a roller to smooth it out as well on Friday. This dumps into a wide sweeping corner at the end of the field. At this point just about every field will be strung out and “selected”. A tighter 180 to double back on itself and we begin the main field section. This is all flat to slightly up-hill the whole way. Lots of slower turning as you “spell out” PSIMET in the field.
We then reverse back to use some of the off-camber at the edge of the field before crossing into the Ski-jump proper. We start this side of the course with a rude introduction to the side of the hill that the ski jump is built on. A short cut downhill into a reverse back uphill into a barrier and run-up. All on a steeply pitched surface. This is followed by a brief reprieve as you test your handling and braking on a sweeping downhill into some wicked off-camber slaloming (Think Northbrook on the ski-hill or even Campton behind the ball field) – tape repairs will be happening here throughout the day.
Upon exit a wide-sweeping run around the pit before the gravel road climb into the some of the local Norge Village. It’s here, on top of the ridge, where we “drop into” cutting across the face of the jump bowl. This is where the expression “don’t look down” was most likely coined. If you keep focused you will find a sweet and fast line across the face. If you lose concentration, look down, or don’t trust your gluing job…well….let’s just not think about that.
This exits out onto the hard-packed/gravel entry road into the bowl. Now it’s time to fly into the landing. From here we send you on some gymnastics in the landing bowl. Some off-camber ledge crossing, a quick banked turn (think Carpentersville), a run up with 2 barriers, and what can only be described as a “Toilet Bowl” circle of death ridden on terrain similar to the side of a large mixing bowl. Good luck.
From here there’s a drainer of a short climb out of the bowl. Across the parking lots (pavement/hard-pack) you drop into a wicked fast and flowing trail around the buildings on the property. This dumps you out into a quick short grade back up to road level. Most will let their speed carry – others will be hoofing it. Back on to the fast pavement, across the road and huge sweeper back into the downhill start/finish.
Parking is in the Norge fields. Check the map for parking. For those that are familiar with the Fox River Grove Crit – you simply turn in where the reg and grandstands were for the crit and follow the dirt road up to the fields where we will park. There will be 2 porta-potties in the parking lot and then 2-3 in the bowl next to the beer tent.
You MUST wear your helmet when riding from the parking lot to the race course! You MUST OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS ON THE ROAD INTO THE COURSE. Roads are NOT closed so please pay attention to the traffic and listen to the course marshals. PLEASE OBEY THE COURSE MARSHALS!
Yes there is a beer tent. Beer license. Concessions. Loud PA, and one of the country’s only real ski jumps. The sound permit is still being amended. That should tell you something.
Big payouts, small entry. Start fast, Finish fast.
Pre-Reg ends tonight. REGISTER NOW! Register Here