Udder Century Cycling
More than 1,000 people are expected to ride through scenic Northern Illinois on June 7 during the Udder Century Invitational cycling event. The 33rd annual ride attracts all ages and skills, and is made possible by generous donors and volunteers.
Great June riding weather, detailed planning by volunteers and a grand pasta buffet are expected once again to bring enthusiastic cyclers and their fans to the 33rd Annual Udder Century Invitational on Sunday, June 7 in Union.
“The Udder Century is an invitational ride that attracts riders from the Midwest and as far away as California,” said Mary Lou Mumford, 2015 chairperson. “It takes an army of volunteers, comprised of members of the McHenry County Bicycle Club, who help at rest stops, registration, pre-registration, food, road markings, publicity, and support and gear services. We are really looking forward to our 33rd Annual Udder Century, and we hope to exceed last year’s number of riders.”
There are many corporate supporters in the community that donate to The Udder: Starbucks, Aldi, Sanfilippo & Son, Country Donuts, Baraboo Candy Co., Dr. Hess Products, Wheel Werks and Trader Joe’s. “We are so grateful to these companies that continue to support us every year,” Mumford said.
Donley’s Village Hall Banquets in Union also looks forward to serving a pasta dinner to riders when they finish their trip. “This event has been held here for many years – it starts here and ends here with a wonderful spaghetti buffet,” said Susan Hagerty, manager of Donley’s. “We serve a buffet with the choice of pasta and sauces, garlic toast and a salad. We also offer complimentary lemonade and ice tea to all of the riders. This will go until about 5:30 p.m.”
Many Udder Century riders use it to train for future cycling events.
Wheel Werks Custom Cycles, a high-end bicycle enthusiast shop in Crystal Lake, also supports Udder Century. Owner Bob Olson rode the first Udder Century when he was a teenager and has either ridden in or worked it ever since.
“For the past seven years, Wheel Werks has gone out to Udder Century with two vans to help the participants if they have problems with their bicycles,” Olson said. “They may need air in their tires. They may have some shifting or brake issues. We can help to make sure their bikes are set up properly for the ride. If someone out on the road has an issue, we can go out with our van and give them a hand. We try to help make sure everyone has a good day and that their bikes are running properly.”
Donley’s Village Hall Banquets in Union is the start-finish of Udder Century.
Lots of Riders, Lots of Reasons
So who rides? “We have social riders using Huffy bikes and families who will do the shortest route,” explained Mary Lou’s husband and volunteer Geoff Mumford. “Others seem to think they’re practicing for the Tour de France. They’re here to do the 100-mile route as fast as they can. Many are using our event as a training event for something else.”
That wide range of expectations is easy to find among the participants. Most participants come to take part in an event that has so many other riders and are appreciative of the depth of support and friendliness offered by the volunteers. Another bonus is the well-marked routes that allow the riders to enjoy the scenery rather than worry about getting lost.
Families, social riders, competitive riders, teams and others participate in Udder Century.
“I love riding in McHenry County with its rolling hills and mix of agriculture and small towns. It’s a beautiful area,” said Dave Colen, past participant, who traveled from Arlington Heights to ride.
Although the reward of a pasta dinner at the ride’s end is a popular bonus, the planning done by Udder Century’s organizers is what makes the event so successful. Ellen Heineman, a repeat rider from Bartlett said, “It’s a great ride. It’s really well organized. It has pretty routes. Roads are in good shape. Rest stops are well stocked when you get really hungry at that 75-mile point. It’s also a very popular ride.”
The setting of the Udder Century ride features a mix of farms and small towns.
How It Works
Although all routes begin and end at Donley’s, riders have a choice of five distances: 32, 50, 62, 75 or 100 miles. All riders are given maps and cue sheets, which Geoff Mumford puts together, and routes are well marked on the county roads used for the event.
And although no roads are closed, “We, of course, notify police departments so they’re well aware of where and when we are having the ride,” Mary Lou explained. “We also contact the township offices. All of the ride participants must sign a statement that they will abide by our rules. We encourage them to ride no more than two abreast, as well as to obey all Illinois Rules of the Road. All riders are also required to wear a helmet.”
Wheel Werks of Crystal Lake is on hand at Udder Century to help fix bike issues.
Radio-equipped vehicles patrol all routes throughout the entire ride to handle any emergency situation. Phil Gardner, a McHenry County Bicycle Club member, coordinates this volunteer group.
“All the drivers carry a limited amount of tools, first aid equipment and water, and are licensed ham radio operators so they’re in constant communication throughout the entire 100-mile ride,” he said. “One of them can get to an emergency scene very quickly. All riders are given an emergency cell number which reaches my phone. I can then get someone to the scene. If the problem is minor, the drivers can handle it on the spot. If the situation is more serious and a rider wants to come back, the driver can bring him back. If it’s an accident involving an injury, they can immediately call the police or an ambulance for assistance.”