Make it the ride of the century

?It is time for a century.

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By JACK CROWE

It is time for a century. Not a hundred years of time, but a hundred or more miles of riding a bike.

For those who think the Tour de France is a travel agency, the century is to cycling what a marathon is to running.

Centuries and slightly shorter rides abound in our region as fall approaches and it is not too late to ramp up your training to include a long event in your riding retinue.

The Wright Century on Sunday, Sept. 4 during Labor Day weekend takes place west of Madison, Wis., around Mount Horeb. The Wright Century includes a ride-by of Taliesin, the second home of Oak Park's most famous architect.

But this is not an architectural tour: it includes lots and lots of rolling hills through dairy country, including some ramps steep enough to make Lance Armstrong get out of his saddle. In the aggregate, you will climb as much as any day in the Rockies. And as long as you do not belong to the white knuckle cycling crowd?#34;easing off the brakes can lead to big descents approaching 50 miles per hour.

A large contingent from the Lake & Harlem cycling group will once again make its way to this second most difficult one day cycling event in the Midwest. The first is the Horribly Hilly Hundreds, which took place in June over the same territory with a butt-numbing 125 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. For information on the Wright Century, visit bombaybicycle.org.

Speaking of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Oak Park Cycle Club is sponsoring something they call the Wright Ride to depart from OPRF High School on Sunday, August 21. While not a century, this brand new local ride offers 10, 25, 50 and 62-mile loops through Oak Park, River Forest, Berwyn and other adjacent architectural hot spots in the western suburbs. This sounds like a fun way for riders of all ages to spend a Sunday morning cycling locally. Hats off to the Oak Park Cycle Club for putting the energy into organizing and promoting this organized ride. According to their website, sponsors include Peak Bar and Hammer Gels, which means lots of goodies at the rest stops. More information is at oakparkcycleclub.org.

Next up is one of my end-of-season favorites, the Northshore Century, which leaves the lakefront in Evanston on Sunday, Sept. 18 and wends its way to Kenosha, Wis., and back.

This is a great first-time century to ride. The course is flat and in Kenosha you even get to ride a couple of laps around the oldest outdoor velodrome in North America, which dates from the 1920's. On the way back, you will ride through Lake Forest and other north shore neighborhoods to see how the other half lives. The ride is sponsored by the Evanston Bike Club and more information is at evanstonbikeclub.org.

If you are family minded and need a Fall weekend away but want to get some miles in before the snow flies, the Apple Cider Century in Three Oaks, Mich., may do the trick.There are options for shorter loops, including 25, 50 and 75 miles. I am told that there are lots of families out riding the shorter courses and enjoying the weekend events. The ride date is Sept. 25 and information is at appecidercentury.com.

So imagine, while Lance is at the beach getting fat, you have all these rides to choose from as you work towards your peak cycling form of the season.

If you want to publicize your favorite cycling event in next month's column or have thoughts on topics for the future, email me at jaccrowe@aol.com, and remember to get out and ride.

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