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Cycling Thu Mar 01 2012

Gapers Block Criterium Series Filling Fast

Twelve hours into online registration, the annual Gapers Block Criterium series presented by Half Acre Cycling already has more category 4 women pre-registered than have ever lined up to race in past years.

The surge in female racers is exciting to see -- local road racing has not seen the same level of women's participation as local track and off-road disciplines. The boom in registrants is surely thanks in part to additional attention for the ladies: top finishers in the women's category 4 race will receive prizes, TATI cycles has offered a free pair of cycling shoes to any female registering for the series for the first time and local cycling teams and classes like Pedaling With a Purpose have been promoting the races for weeks.

The series runs nightly March 26 through 29 in Calumet Park on Chicago's southeast side, accessible by bike via the Lakefront Path. Races are designed for beginner competitive cyclists (category 5 and 4 men and category 4 and 3 women) who are new to racing and looking to gain experience before the road racing season picks up in the spring and summer. The flat, 0.8 mile course features wide turns and long straight sections, perfect for riders who are still uneasy with tight corners and shoulder-to-shoulder pelotons.

Pre-registration for the series is designed to be highly affordable: $50 total for men and $25 total for women for all four nights. Day-of registration runs $20 for men and $10 for women for each night of racing. Pre-registration closes March 22.

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