Old 02-27-07, 10:56 AM
Mayonnaise's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Chicago (Beverly)
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Bikes: Merckx Team SC, Masi (fixed), Merckx Cyclo-Cross

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It is the South Chicago Wheelmen, of which I am a member, that hosts the weekly crit on Tuesday nights at the paint factory.

Torn up Dan Ryan not withstanding, I cannot stress too much the importance of these races for beginning racers.

Get your USCF license and bring it with you. Cost is $7 per week. The race is very popular. Get there early so you can sign in and warm up.

Here’s how it works. Racers are separated in 2 groups: A’s and B’s. The A riders have experience and have been coming out for a few years; at this point you don’t need concern yourself with them. They line up first and the gun goes off.

The B riders are a mixed group. Everything from old farts to young kids to new racers. There are racers with teams and racers in T-shirts. You roll up to the line, wait until the A’s are about a half lap ahead, and you’re off.

It’s a 1K lap course and you’ll do 3 races a night: typically 10, 30, 20 laps. Usually the old farts and young kids drop off after a lap or 2, leaving a reasonably serious group riding at a reasonably serious pace.

Since you’re new to racing you can count on getting dropped. Accept it now, it’ll be easier on you. Stay on the far left and when the B’s come around again, jump back on. When you get dropped again, simply repeat. Keep coming back week after week to get the experience. Keep in mind also, that while the B’s ride at a good pace, the A group pace is typical of a “normal” race. This gives you an idea of what to expect when racing elsewhere.

This is the best place for beginners because you can race all night long and not get pulled. If, instead, you race, say, Monsters of Midway, you’ll spend all morning getting ready, drive to the race, register, line up, and poof, you’ll be dropped in 3, 4 minutes, and have to go home. Very frustrating.

The SCW Tuesday race is informal and friendly with lots of regulars. You’ll get a chance to meet people and may find clues as to what team to join. Team selection is pretty easy actually, just pick one. Make a friend and join whatever team he’s on.

My friend, stop fretting about distance. If you want to race in Chicago you have to go where the races are, and that means leaving the city limits (what, you wanna train on Ashland?). Besides, as a new racer, you’ll need to put in serious miles if you want to have any fun. So you ride out to a suburban training ride, ride it, then ride back. I was part of a group that rode from Logan’s Square down to Matteson each Tuesday, raced, then rode back. Just shy of one hundred miles.

There’s lots of people doing this and they’re going to be lining up right next to you at the Start/Finish line, so you’ll wanna be prepared.

If all you did was ride down to Tuesday night, race, and ride back, you’d be fit and fast in no time. PM me if you want the best route to take. Accept the adventure, you won’t be sorry.


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