Race Report: Palos Meltdown and Vernon Hills Crit

There is lots of great local racing in Chicago – from road to mountain bike (MTB) to cyclocross (CX). The Higher Gear racers, affectionately known as Gearheads, recently tackled several of these formats and had a great time in the process.

Two weeks ago, the Higher Gear racing team packed up the van and recently set out to tackle one of the best mountain bike races in the Midwest, the Palos Meltdown. The team set sail in the Higher Gear shop van and sail was the appropriate word. It is meant more for the parking areas than the highways as the 1993 GMC conversion van floats down the local expressways.

The team made camp in Palos in a prime location between the Specialized demo truck and the finish line.  The team took to the course and got a full race report as Nancy and Al W scouted the trail. The course featured some wet spots but it was tacky and fast. Those are solid for great MTB racing.

Palos Meltdown Higher Gear


The Meltdown was aptly named this year, as several Higher Gear racers faced mechanicals and were tagged with the dreaded DNF (did-not-finish) tag. It didn’t spoil their fun. The Higher Gear team hosted many friends including folks from SRAM, friends and racers from the Northwestern University cycling club and many customers.


The bright spot of the day was Cyndy Dehmer’s ride. She has a great history of success at Palos and this year was no exception. Racing hard she claimed second place for her age group. Quite an impressive feat on that course.

Who says you can’t have great MTB racing in Flatlandia?

Even the local road racing can be a real thrill. This past weekend, many of the Higher Gear riders came out to compete in the Vernon Hills Criterium (Crit). The course was fast and mainly flat except for a hill between turns three and four. The road was in good condition and gave plenty of the room for the riders to maneuver.

The morning started with Cat 5 racers, followed by Juniors 10-14 and 15-18. The Cat 4/5 was next and then on to the Women’s races with the professional races in the early afternoon. The first five races featured Higher Gear riders and the results were impressive.

Vernon Hills Crit Women Race Higher GearVernon Hills Crit Thomas Elliot Higher Gear


The Juniors took the “ride fast” motto to heart. Thomas Elliott-de Cock captured second in the 15-18 Juniors category and Joe Sullivan took second followed by Lewis Simon for third place in the 10-14 Juniors category.


Vernon Hills Crit Podium Juniors Higher Gear Joe Sullivan Lewis SmithVernon Hills Crit Podium Juniors Thomas Elliot Higher Gear


It was a great day of racing with cool conditions and little wind for fast course. The crowd was great, cheering on all the racers from the start and the day even finished with some of the best pizza in Lake County from Wa-Pa-Ghetti’s. What a great way to see the most colorful and one of the most exciting sports in the world. Even the Italians would be proud.


Vernon Hills Crit Juniors HIgher Gear Joe Sullivan Lewis Simon


Interested in joining our Gearheads Racing Team – to race with us or to cheer us on from our Higher Gear tent? Check us out here.

Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

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