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Cycling Thu Jan 28 2010

Women's Racing Clinic

Bicycle racing is on its face a sometimes-enigmatic and confusing sport. Usually, it's not all about a racer going as hard as he or she can to the finish line, because if they try that, they'll likely be beaten to the finish line first by someone who's playing the game much smarter than them.

Cycling's compared so often to a game of chess on wheels -- a racer can assume all the roles on the board -- from pawn to queen. Sometimes your job in a race is to sacrifice yourself for a teammate, other times, everyone gives their all for you just to bring you to the finish line first. The role of the domestique is a celebrated one in the history of the sport, so too the rouleur, the climber. Cycling's full of terms like echelon, breakaway, tempo, all of which mean something important but what exactly do they mean? What does it mean to half-wheel someone? To hold your line?

And this is where things get tricky. Cycling's a sport that has a disproportionately large amount of male racers. If you're a guy and you're interested in racing, you're immediately thrown into the mix and you learn quickly that you never hit the brakes in the corners or that you never jump out of the saddle on a crowded climb because you've got 50-70 other racers next to you to remind you of your mistake. Women's racing is different -- the races are smaller, but often no less intense, but there's certainly a need for novices to the sport to learn more than just being thrown into things and told to have fun and don't crash.

The Half Acre Cycling squad is hosting a women's racing clinic on March 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m at the UIC Behavioral Sciences building (1007 West Harrison) to introduce women to competitive bicycle racing in a part classroom setting and then outside on a closed course. Experience women racers will be providing the instruction and will guide attendees on what to expect in bike racing, training techniques, equipment, etiquette, and other nuances of the sport. The cost is $15 for current USAC license holders or $20 for those without. Registration opens on Monday, February 1.

(Disclosure: I race for the Half Acre Cycling team.)

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