Pix from the Gapers Block crits

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The State Line Energy coal-fired plant in Hammond, Indiana, visible in the background, is scheduled to be shut down this spring.

I’m very glad I made the trip last Monday to Calumet Park, 95th and the lakefront, for the Gapers Block Criterium Series, sponsored by one of my favorite local blogs, Gapers Block, and one of my favorite my favorite local brews, Half Acre Beer. Back in February we interviewed race organizer Vanessa Buccella about the female-friendly aspects of this race series.

Running late, I rode my city bike downtown from Logan Square and caught the #26 South Shore Express bus at Columbus Avenue and 11th Street, its last stop before it heading south on Lake Shore Drive, since I bike about the same speed as a bus making stops in normal traffic. The bus zoomed south on the Drive, where traffic was flowing freely, and I got off at the next stop at 71st and South Shore Drive, cutting a significant chunk out of my travel time. From there I pedaled the remaining few miles to the race. I was planning to catch the Red Line home at 95th and State but instead got a lift with a friend who’d rented an I-GO car to get down to the race.

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The Perimeter Ride at Calumet Fisheries – photo by Eric Allix Rogers

After grabbing some smoked trout and crackers to snack on at Calumet Fisheries, 3259 E. 95th, a shack next to the bridge that Jake and Ellwood jumped in the Blues Brothers, I headed to the lush, lakeside green space to watch competitors ride laps around the circular course as the sun descended. Munching my salty fish in the chilly evening as the blur of colorful Lyrca zoomed by me, I thought to myself, “Bike racing is pretty cool.” Here’s a few more photos I snapped that evening.

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Women’s post-race Q&A session with racing coach Kristen Meshberg.

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Tonya Nicolaou and her husband Andrew after she completed her first-ever bike race on an “ill-fitting” borrowed bike. “I just wanted to try it,” she said. “I had never done anything like it and commuted every day and decided that this was the next step. I think the race actually seemed to go OK. I kept up with other people and didn’t fall to the end. So, yay!”

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John Greenfield

John has lived in Chicago since 1989 and has worked a number of bicycle jobs, from messenger to mechanic to managing the Chicago Department of Transportation's bicycle parking program, arranging the installation of over 3,700 bike racks. He writes regularly for Time Out Chicago, Newcity, Momentum and Urban Velo magazines and works at Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square.

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