Wright Ride, the right choice


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Jack Crowe

Congrats to the Oak Park Cycling Club and the Oak Park Visitors Center on a successful first ever Wright Ride in Oak Park and environs on August 21. It was a beautiful day. Approximately four hundred riders participated. The most popular course was the 25-mile route, but I saw many riders heading out to Waterfall Glen on the 62-mile option.

This ride is good for Oak Park and for cycling. There were families with kids heading out by Brookfield Zoo on the 25-mile course. I spoke with one couple who drove in from Batavia. This was their first visit to Oak Park and they loved riding through our neighborhoods.

Next year, the Wright Ride will work out a few kinks. The rain a few days before washed out some of the chalk markings in the street and there was a typo or two on the cue sheet that left some riders befuddled. My hope is that next year they will add a 100-mile option, which could attract a whole different crowd of distance cyclists.

On another topic, final preparations are in the works for those Oak Parkers and River Foresters riding the similarly-named Wright Century west of Madison, Wis., on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Two weeks before a big ride like the Wright Century is the last opportunity to get in the long training rides of up to 100 miles, and many local cyclists have begun to taper, that is to dramatically reduce their training in anticipation of the event. Local riders for the Wright Century include Steve Baskin, Dennis Bonner, Hugo Chavez, Jim Donegan, Mark Jolicoeur, Mike Newbery, Greg Padgett, David Phillips, Carl Shimer and Paul Winston.

Ironman triathlons are some of the most grueling events in sports and we have a number of local masochists who participate. A number of Oak Parkers, including Sharon Aharon, Dr. Alan Parangao, Bret Patnode, John Ryan and Mike Stec, as well as Brad Culp of River Forest, should be beginning to taper their training three weeks before Ironman Wisconsin in Madison on Sept. 11.

These local athletes will swim 2.4 miles and ride 112 miles over a hilly course before running a 26-mile marathon with more hills. Last summer, with temperatures in the upper 90s, many did not finish. But this event is so popular that you have to sign up for the 2006 event (and pay a hefty entrance fee) the day you finish the 2005 triathlon. That is like agreeing to have another child minutes after a painful birth.

Congrats to local attorney Eligio Pimentel for completing the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon in New York in August. He attributes his improving overall triathlon times to better cycling thanks to early morning training rides with the Lake and Harlem group.

Dr. Ross Hauser, who was sweating profusely just thinking about it, competed in Ironman Canada out by British Columbia this past weekend. According to Ross, Ironman Canada has two grueling 1,200-foot climbs on the cycling leg. Like a Tour de France cyclist, Ross scouted the route several days before the event to note the sharp corners on downhills and other hazards. On Saturday he carefully set up his transitions ("cycling shoes? Check.") and on Sunday, at 7 a.m., he started off with 2,000 other competitors.

Ross is so crazy about triathlons that each year he runs what he calls a Staminathon at his summer house in Florida. He invites local athletes to Florida in the dead of winter to do three consecutive Olympic length triathlons in one day: that is swim/bike/run, swim/bike/run ? You get the idea.

To see my thoughts on the tragic death of local cyclist Patricia Quaine, please see my comments in Viewpoints.

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