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June 1, 2005

The South Chicago Wheelmen run a Tuesday night criterium series that is popular for developing riders and others looking to fine-tune their racing skills. Seven dollars buys entry in up to three races on a 1km course. It's loose and informal. Riders are free to get lapped or drop out and jump back in.

This week's races fell less than 36 hours after my marathon, but it would have been a shame to let a rare Tuesday night off work go to waste. I figured I'd go and at least see what it was all about.

I couldn't find a ride, so I joined a few teammates for the bike trip down. We took Kedzie through the length of Chicago, then through Evergreen Park, Merrionnette Park and Alsip. And Blue Island, Robbins and Midlothian. And Oak Forest and the Tinley Creek Forest Preserve.

Three hours and 39 miles after I began, my nose caught the sweet, sweet odor of fresh paint. Finally we were at our destination, the Matteson Ace Hardware paint factory where the series is held.

Of the 65 total laps, I raced only 25 in deference to my aching legs. Though I still hate crits, even limited participation was good practice. I definitely learned a thing or two about tactics and protocol.

The ride home was a delight, especially going through the forest preserve as the sun eased over the horizon.

I got home around midnight. My odometer read 93 miles. It was still pleasant out, so I dropped my heavy bag, ate a banana and headed down to Belmont and back to make it an even hundred.

Photo taken: May 31, 2005