It's been nice to have a week off of racing and getting to be at home for awhile. I went for a ride by myself last Thursday and it felt sort of weird to be out on a solo ride. After almost 4 weeks where nearly every ride was a race and the days in between were spent off the bike it was nice to just ride alone. And it's been really good to be home with Dave and Cider. We're in the home stretch to Dave's 3rd Ironman in September and I'm super excited to be a spectator for his half in Racine this weekend. Not able to stay away from racing for too long I'll also enter a couple of Superweek races starting with Thursday's Shorewood Crit and likely Saturday in Schlitz Park. I chose to race the Dairyland series over Superweek this year as I appreciated the larger prize money, equal race days to men, and the variety of courses. It also fit better into my schedule between NRC stage races. I'm curious to see how the SW racing will go . . .
So I feel like I need to promote a couple of upcoming races in an attempt to increase the womens field size for these events. To do my part I plan to race all of them. Here they are in chronological order:
1 - Chicago Criterium - July 26th - Sunday
This is a cool event. I went last year for the inaugural edition and it was fantastic. Big prize money for women - this year is $7000 (down from $10000 last year) The course is right on the lake in downtown Chicago - it's super fun to be racing in the city. Last year TIBCO brought a full team and there were some other talented riders as well - a field size of about 40. This year with NRC stage race Cascade finishing up on the 26th there likely won't be many pro teams sending a full squad. Also this is the final day of Stupidweek . . . err, I mean Superweek. C'mon though - $850 prize purse vs. $7000 - not too difficult of a decision there. I'm really excited that my awesome teammate Joelle is going to fly in for this one - she'll be fresh off of the Pan Am Championships in Mexico.
2 - Elk Grove - August 1/2
Last year this race didn't go spectacularly. There was one day of womens racing (4 days for men) and the $3000 prize list paled in comparison to the $165,000 for men. The race conflicted with the huge money ($25K) Presbyterian NRC crit in North Carolina and the womens attendance suffered as a result with only 15 racers. Did I mention it was an all categories race too - that's right Cat 4s and Cat 1s all together. There was open discussion following the event and promises that 2009 would be better. And so far on paper it is. There are two womens races on Saturday including a separate Cat 3/4 race and 1/2/3 women get an additional day of racing on Sunday. Prize money increased as well with $3K Saturday and $5K Sunday. Hopefully there will be a good showing of Midwestern women and perhaps some will travel for the weekend.
3 - Downer's Grove - August 15/16 - I don't think this one needs any promotion ;)
4 - Gateway Cup/Tour of Missouri Crit - September 4-7
This Labor Day race series in St. Louis has always been a really fun event. I did the races in 2006 and had a blast. There are 4 crits including a super cool twilight (as in the womens race starts at 8:30, men at 9:30) crit on Friday night in a hip neighborhood. Each day showcases a different locale and the courses are interesting and fun. St. Louis is the stomping ground of some awesome riders, clubs, and teams including my pals Carrie and Chris and their Team Revolution. A great group of women who focus on riding and racing they have always been terrific advocates for womens cycling. This year these gals and others involved in the event have gone above and beyond and have secured solid prize money for women with $1900/day for Fri/Sat/Sun and then on Monday is the second running of the NRC Tour of Missouri Womens Crit with $9000 up for grabs (plus $1000 overall points competition). It should be a great weekend and a fun way to finish off road racing for the year. Also, despite a scare last week when the state considered cutting out the 1.5 million bucks it planned on giving the race it looks like the race is safe for at least this year.
Soooo - if you're looking for some good events in the Midwest - take your pick! Hope to see lots of familiar faces out there!