Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Venus de Miles Lands in Chicago

Put pedal to the mettle on July 29. Credit: koocbor on flickr
Tell me about a bike ride, namely anything that doesn't involve Chicago's city streets or the Lakefront Path, and I'll want to ride it. Tell me about a bike ride that I don't have to drive to Wisconsin for and I'll really want to ride it. Tell me about a bike ride that's not too far from home, has a Colorado connection, and happens on a weekend where I'm usually looking for something to do, and I'm hands down riding it.

The name of such a ride? Venus de Miles. VdM is a Boulder-based women's cycling event--I knew I recognized it from the get-go from poring over calendar pages of Rocky Mountain Sports--and it's expanding to the Chicago area to bring female riders their first-ever all-women's road bike ride on Sunday, July 29. Teresa Robbins, VdM's founder and race director, says that Illinois was a natural choice for expansion. "When we were scouting areas to host another ride we fell in love with Lake Forest and the possibilities the route has to offer," she says.

I would believe it. Lake Forest is just enough removed from the craziness of Chicago city traffic. Vision Quest Coaching is known to ride in the area. If he's in town and it's not frigid outside, professional cyclist Christian VandeVelde could be spotted on those roads--he lives one town over, Libertyville. Anyone riding the North Shore route to Wisconsin would pass through Lake Forest. And it could potentially draw cyclists from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, without too much inconvenience.

But don't let my reasoning, with reference to speedsters like VandeVelde, deter you from participating. Venus de Miles is not supposed to be intimidating, or a race. It's a celebration of sisterhood, it's an opportunity to support Greenhouse Scholars, and it's fun. In fact, you're encouraged to get off your bike to walk it up a hill, or to stop and listen to music, or to just take a break (after all, the event's in July and that particular weekend was a sweatfest in 2011).

The event will start out of the Lake Forest College campus and offers course options of 30 or 60 miles. To participate, registration starts at $79 if you sign up by April 1 and climbs from there. But there's more to the event than just riding. Your fee not only includes a T-shirt--and one that claims to look good unlike several race impostors--but you'll also get a post-ride gourmet lunch, entrance into the cocktail lounge, and the option to partake in the services available at the pop-up spa (be gone knots, achy shoulders and saddle sores!). And you'll be helping to raise money for the Greenhouse Scholars, an organization that helps high-performing, under-resourced students reach their full potential. After putting pedal to the mettle, cyclists can enjoy a post-ride expo complete with women's specific vendors, prizes, wine and beer. Talk about a reason to veer from my typical ride and run routine--and I'm not talking a BRick workout.

And here's a little something to sweeten the deal. If you register at illinois.venusdemiles.com between today and February 19, and enter the code Vdmvalentine at checkout, you can save $20 on registration. That's a deal I can't refuse. Or better yet, make the ride registration a Valentine's Day gift. Maybe it's just me, but I'd prefer a bike ride, even if it's months away, over a flower bouquet that'll die because I forget to water it.

So...who wants to ride with me? I promise, I won't speed away!

Photo grabbed from koocbor at flickr.

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