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Cycling Mon Jan 31 2011

Illinois Cyclists Race for the Race

Photo of Chris Eatough at the 2008 Lumberjack 100 by davisrc19

Every year, usually on Feb. 1, cyclists throughout Illinois sit at their computers, waiting with impatience to start the Race Before The Race. Espressos in hand, fingers clicking mice with frantic jitters, these riders are vying for a coveted few slots in some of the season's most popular races.

Yes, some races in Illinois and Michigan have become so popular that just getting in is accomplishment enough. Limited slots and wide-ranging reputation also cause consternation for cyclists who right now are headway into preparing for the racing season, still months away. And the race begins in just a few hours.

One of the most popular races in Illinois is the April 2 Hillsboro-Roubaix just outside St. Louis. H-R is the highlight of many cyclists' spring campaigns and it always sells out. Tuesday, Feb. 1, the virtual lines open at 8 a.m. If you're a Cat. 4 or 5 racer, be at the ready. Registration is here.

Hillsboro-Roubaix is a wind-swept race over varying terrain and is best known for its bricked final mile (where it gets the "Roubaix"). It's a fun course made challenging by big fields, wind and typically inclement weather.

Registration also opens Tuesday at 8 a.m. for one of the premiere mountain bike races in the Midwest, the Lumberjack 100 endurance event, which will be held June 18 near the Manistee National Forest. Registration is here. At 100 miles, 90 of them single-track, the Lumberjack is a major endeavor that draws racers from all over the region.

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