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Monday, April 22

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Cycling Sat Apr 25 2009

Soldier Field Cycling (and More!)

Rumor was going around a bit about a complete race series on the Chicago lakefront. This past week, details came out on the Soldier Field Cycling Series. Six days of amateur and pro racing in the shadows of Soldier Field on alternating Wednesdays June through August. See the race flyer here for complete details and the schedule.

Registration opens up on May 1st and at $100 to race the entire series of 6 races, the racing's an absolute bargain. Especially for a race that requires little or no driving for Chicagoland racers. Oh, and juniors race free. It all sounds too good to be true, especially since I bore witness to the logistical nightmare of running a bike race series.

Coming soon too is the Sherman Park Criterium on June 13, hosted by Alderman JoAnn Thompson of the 16th Ward and xXx Racing-Athletico. Sherman Park's so close that it's worth trying to get the feel for crit racing before the heat of summer brings the madness of Superweek.

And next weekend is the third running of the Vernon Hills Grand Prix on Sunday May 3. The Cat. 5 field is filled-up, but room remains in all the others. Pre-registration closes Wednesday April 29, so there are a few days to make that major decision. Which one should, natch.

Anyway, who knew that snazzy clothes and dutch bikes made such a good combo, at least aesthetically speaking? Any rider worth his or her miles and calves knows that wearing nice clothes while cycling is a recipe for a sweat-soaked, grease-spattered mess. And don't dare ride through a puddle without good fenders, lest you have no problem looking as if incontinent.

Cycling apparel is admittedly not the most fashionable stuff around, but it works. And I'm not necessarily talking about skintight lycra, but bike specific stuff made by companies such as Ibex and Swrve. Certainly, lycra shorts with a good chamois is necessary for hard training and racing. It's comfortable - the right tool for the job.

I have a hard time thinking that a suit is the right tool for the job of riding a bike, not unless one has no hills or wind to contend with. Any effort to move the bike over 10 MPH will start sweat beading, which doesn't go well with a $2,000 outfit, unless Rapha, of course. Maybe I don't get the point?

I suppose so. From the companion article to the fashion spread:

Hard-core cyclists might scoff at seeing a bike in a clothing boutique. But, as Mr. Vicente pointed out, the kiss of fashion may help people embrace the idea of a more practical bike.

I'm no hardcore than a commuter out there riding to work regardless of the weather, or any other dedicated cyclist, whether riding for fitness, transportation or competition. To say though that a fashionable getup is the catalyst for bike acceptance by the masses is a frail argument. The issue with cycling for most noncyclists is that it involves a bike - thinking fashion will help reeks of ridiculousness. But this comes from someone with a fervent and non-ironic taste for '80s cycling fashion.

I suppose though that it doesn't all matter, because so long as people are riding, then all is good. Maybe, even, I'll try my commute in my work clothes than team kit. I have a hard time thinking it'll be a pleasant experience.

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