Christmas songs of sleigh bells and white Christmas' have been hard for me to swallow in the hot summer December days of life in the Southern Hemi (I’ve lived overseas in Sydney, Australia since 2011), so every year we’ve made the Xmas pilgrimage to the snowy Midwestern USA for a month of Christmas family time, snowy and cold days playing outside, and of course, some ‘Cross! Nationals have always fit the schedule perfectly, but the race that without a doubt I wouldn’t miss for the world is Chicago Cuttin' Crew’s AfterGlow-A Cyclocross Race (@chicagocuttincrew)! Held in the West Loop neighborhood of Douglas Park, those Robots really know how to throw together an epic day, all for a good reason as it’s a fund raiser for Chicago kids! Back to back Master’s and Single Speed races in perfect conditions gave my Speedvagen and Vanilla the last minute pre-Nationals and pre-Xmas spin they needed…and double podium with handmade glitter medals, damn CCC….thanks!
Growing up an hour North of The Windy City in Milwaukee, WI, Chicago was always the far away and intimidating Bright Lights, Big City… memorable teenage journeys include 1)getting fake IDs made and 2)seeing the Hoodoo Gurus, but for the most part I stayed North of the border; what a mistake that was. It wasn’t until my Australian wife's appreciation of the city opened my eyes that I explored one of our countries greatest places… amazing architecture, incredible food, and like CCC crew, great people!
Worlds collided and I discovered a longtime friend from my Burton Snowboard shooting days, Cody Hudson (@struggle_inc), a graphic designer who I worked with on my first book BLOWER. He had resettled in his hometown of Chicago and opened a restaurant/bar/hotel called Longman & Eagle. Amazing food, incredible service and a bed above a loud thumping Whiskey bar into the late hours are hard to pass it up…it’s been my go-to for the past two years and I’m already looking forward to next year.
Chicago continues to blow my mind. Intelligentsia seems to have the Stumptown-like lockdown on good coffee throughout the city, but it was Luke from Chicago’s lengendary Ten Speed Hero that hooked me with an incredible ‘musts’ list of eating and drinking establishments, and like all things HERO, it didn’t disappoint. Tacos and Whiskey at Big Star, sushi at Yuzu, and post race brunch at Cellar Door Provisions couldn’t have been better.
Chicago Cuttin' Crew and TSH, thank you for welcoming Speedvagen Family Racing and for making Chicago in December home…I can hardly wait until next year. Next stop, Austin, Texas!
Photos of Jeff by his wife, Jess Curtes. All other photos by Jeff Curtes.