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Longsjo Classic Bicycle Race Bows Out After 60 YearsRace assets to be donated to local charities Fitchburg, MA. Board...Posted by Longsjo Classic on Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Longsjo Classic Bicycle Race Bows Out After 60 Years
Race assets to be donated to local charities
Fitchburg, MA. Board members of the Art Longsjo Foundation today announced the end of the Longsjo Classic bicycle race, first held in 1960. The event served as a memorial to past Fitchburg resident Arthur M. Longsjo, Jr, who in 1956 became the first American to compete in both Summer Olympics (cycling) and Winter Olympics (speedskating) in the same year. In 1958, at the height of his career, Longsjo perished in a car crash while driving home after winning the 180 mile long Quebec-to-Montreal race.
Most of the event’s budget has come from cash sponsorships by local Fitchburg businesses, such as recent title sponsors Rollstone Bank & Trust, and Research Results. “There are many worthy causes, civic groups, and events working to enhance quality of life in Fitchburg,” said Reese Brown, Event Director of the Longsjo Foundation. “After 60 years, the Foundation Board made the decision for the Longsjo race to retire, in-part so that the finite local dollars required to support the race can flow to other good causes.”
Also cited was the steep nationwide decline in road-style bicycle racing in the last 5-10 years, with countless races shuttering. In 2010, the race had 1000 entries across all categories. In 2019, that number had dwindled to 262. From 2016 – 2019, entries fell by 38%. “Road cycling is in a freefall, and even USA Cycling (the sport’s national governing body) projects continued losses of race entries,” said Brown.
“We mark the Longsjo Foundation’s decision to end the race not with sadness, but with deep appreciation,” said Fitchburg mayor Steve DiNatale. “For 60 years, the race brought international-caliber sports to Fitchburg’s downtown streets, and vitality to the city,” said DiNatale. “The race may be bowing out, but it will forever be a part of Fitchburg.” Art Longsjo’s legacy endures in the city, both thru the Longsjo Middle School, and a memorial on the Upper Common. The final Longsjo races, in July of 2019, were won by the brother-sister duo of Curtis and Emma White of Delanson, NY – the latter of whom is slated to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
The non-profit Longsjo Foundation will distributing its remaining funds to Fitchburg charities and civic organizations. A final news release will be issued regarding these donations.
A few stats about the race over the years:
First held in 1960, making it the 2nd oldest race in the US, behind NJ’s Tour of Somerville (won by Art Longsjo in 1958)
Estimates are that over 15,000 different athletes raced Fitchburg in the past 60 years
Since 1990, over $100,000 in event proceeds were donated to local charitable causes
Competitors included Tour de France winners, Olympic gold medalists – and hundreds of area kids, who joined in the event’s fun races for those under age 12 in recent years.