By Jake Krzeczowski For Pioneer Press May 28, 2012 8:30AM
Updated: May 29, 2012 11:56AM
On June 2 hundreds of cyclists will converge on Glencoe for the annual Glencoe Grand Prix.
Growing from a small race in 2007, the Grand Prix has blossomed into a full-scale professional contest featuring riders from all over the country.
The event, hosted by the Glencoe Educational Foundation (GEF), features a series of activities for the community including appearances by Golden Globe award-winning actor Matthew Modine who will serve as Grand Marshall of the event.
Modine, who will appear in The Dark Knight Rises this summer, is an avid cyclist himself who is the founder of the Bicycle for a Day Foundation.
Through a partnership Modine has with Biomega he was able to donate $30,000 of bikes to West Town Bikes on the West Side of Chicago.
The bikes are part of an initiative at the bike shop to educate kids about bike maintenance and safety. At the end of the program, each child recieves a bike.
As part of his Grand Marshall duties, Modine will host a talk at Alberto’s Cycles in Highland Park to discuss cycling, his career and the mission behind his foundation.
“Matthew was just a great fit for the race,” said Jon Knouse, President of the GEF and Director of the Grand Prix said. “His love for cycling and charity just matched up great with what we are trying to do.”
Part of the week-long activities surrounding the Grand Prix is the Family Fun Ride on May 31, which allows parents and children to take a spin around the professional course on their own two wheels.
The Grand Prix is able to attract professional-level riders because of its inclusion in the USA Cycling National Criterium, the official tour for cycling.
“We’re on the national level in terms of racing,” Knouse said. “We have riders coming from all over the country, international riders. Beyond the professional races we also have a series of amateur races.”
One of those racers is a local talent, Mike Sherer of Winnetka, who won the race in 2010. After missing last year’s race due to injury he is eager to get back on the familiar track.
“The race is about five blocks from my Dad’s house,” Sherer said. “All the races in the North Shore have a special place in my heart and I’m coming in ready to go.”
The race was started in 2007 as a way to raise money for the Glencoe Educational Foundation, which benefits schools in the Glencoe area as well as select Chicago public schools.
“We used to have a dinner in the winter time to complement the bike race in the summer, but the race got so big that we dropped the dinner altogether in 2008 and focused on the race,” Knouse said.
In 2010 the Grand Prix was awarded the National Championship for the Criterium schedule which has kept it on the tour schedule ever since.
“The Glencoe Grand Prix is a big deal for a lot of people,” Grand Prix Media Director Jon Kerr said. “It really has grown into something special.”