Longjso Classic is Fast Approaching

June 21, 2018 GMT

The whir of tires will soon be here, with bicycles and their riders a blur of color and speed in both Leominster and Fitchburg.

The cyclists of the 2018 Longsjo Classic are set to take to the streets in less than two weeks, taking part in the 58th edition of the racing event named for Fitchburg’s dual Olympian, Arthur Longsjo.

Where has the time gone?

On June 30, riders will take part in the Rollstone Bank Leominster Criterium, an afternoon of racing capped with an early evening run by the pro men cyclists. And the following day, nine scheduled races will loop through the Fitchburg Downtown Criterium on an iconic course.

After missing a year because of the Johnsonia Building fire in 2011, the race saw registration numbers drop and a cancellation in 2012. Out of sight, out of mind. It dropped from four stages to three, then to two, where it currently stands.


Long gone are the days of riders grinding out a grueling course up Wachusett Mountain. The same goes for the celebratory atmosphere of the Fitchburg State University stage, a sneaky-tough lap through the campus in front of raucous crowds.

But the Longsjo Foundation has poured its figurative heart and soul into reclaiming the attention of North Central Mass. following the race’s cancellation in 2012.

Since then, organizers of the Longsjo have done everything in their power to return the event to its previous glory. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, 91 riders were registered for the Leominster race, while 100 had signed up for the Fitchburg stage.

Having the race on the USA Cycling American Road Calendar and featured as part of New England Crit Week no doubt has helped pull riders back in. It’s been a slow climb back in terms of drawing cyclists and crowds, but strides were made last year.

Here’s hoping that the fans and riders continue to return to the race. After that, we can discuss bringing back the Fitchburg State University stage (which was a party the likes of which are unrivaled in sports competitions in the city; we’re talking dozens of people on rooftops along Pearl Street at the finish line).

Imagine, if you will, that you’ve reached the pinnacle of your industry.

You’ve got power, respect, the admiration of your peers. You’re on top of the world.

And just after getting to the point you’ve always dreamed of, you walk away.

Crazy, right?

But that’s exactly what Barry Trotz did Monday, resigning from his post as head coach of the Washington Capitals -- the team that claimed its first Stanley Cup on June 7. Once the parading of the Cup was done, Trotz and the Caps were unable to agree on terms for a new contract and the coach decided he’d simply had enough.

Now he’ll seek new employment and Washington will begin to look for a new bench boss. So much for a honeymoon period.

Odds and ends: The NBA draft is Thursday and the Celtics hold the 27th pick. Barring a trade (which the C’s certainly hold the assets to make), drafting a big-time impact player at that point is a longshot, though you don’t have to look back very far to find that last player at that number to contribute to a team: the Nets picked Kyle Kuzma and immediately sent him to the Lakers last season and he averaged 16 points a game. ... Today in remarkable statistics: If Wayne Gretzky had never scored a goal in the NHL, he’d still have more points (courtesy of his 1,963 assists) than Jaromir Jagr, who’s in second in career points with 1,921. Absolutely incredible. ... Bobblehead fans, don’t sleep on the Lowell Spinners this summer. As usual, the team has some spectacular giveaways at the ballpark. Visit the team’s website, milb.com/lowell , and see for yourself.

Follow Nick Mallard on Twitter @n_mallard.