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Saturday, July 2

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Cycling Thu Oct 22 2009

Chicago Women Cyclists' Night; Bartlett 'Cross

Becoming an amateur bike racer in Chicago is easy with the progression from casual rider to racer a natural one. You go on some group rides and learn the ropes on how to ride in a pack at which time you'll experience the emotional and physical crush of being dropped. Then you train harder and start leading the ride. Then someone tells you should consider racing at which point you shave your legs, buy a USAC license, and join a team.

Well, all this is easy if you're a guy. Bike races and competitive group rides in Chicago often experience male/female ratios of 5:1, if not more. It's not that cycling's a sport with an entrenched macho culture; it's that the sport can be very intimidating and obtuse for those those not willing to dive deep into it. It's also not very forgiving. The difference in intensity from fitness riding to competitive racing, even at a low Cat. 4/5 level, is astounding. And for whatever reasons, those included, the numbers of women lining up to race pale in comparison to the men. Take for example the ChiCrossCup races -- the men's 4A and 4B categories fill-up to the brim of 75 racers each with a waitlist of 10-20 more. The women's 4 category is usually at most 30-40 riders.

Aiming to get more women into the sport, Half Acre Cycling is hosting a Chicagoland Women Bike Racers' Night at the Half Acre Brewery facility (4257 N. Lincoln) on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Gather to talk about racing and training in a social setting, sans-lycra, with representatives from many of the Chicago-area teams with strong women squads. Half Acre is providing copious amounts of their delicious brews and Specialized is bringing some of their women-specific products, such as bikes and saddles, to demonstrate and give away as door prizes. "Podium men" are promised.

The event has a Facebook page, too.

Coming up this weekend is the fifth ChiCrossCup race at Bartlett, hosted by Athletes By Design. As before, register early and register often. Now's the time to start doubling-up if you can. The strategies of racing twice in a day are hard to suss out -- does one attack the first race with everything and use the second as an extra workout? Or does one save a little in the first to give it everything with the second?

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