UPDATE (5/18/2008): the practice crits are temporarily suspended due to construction work on the course. Check the website for updates.
I want to bring the Matteson practice crits to people's attention. This is a series of crits that takes place in an access road around a factory, in Matteson, IL. Matteson is about 40 minutes away from Chicago, by car. The event is held on Tuesdays at 6 pm. Check out the website.
Depending on hours of sunlight, they hold two or three crits on any given Tuesday. The first one is about 15 laps, the second one is about 40 laps, and the last one, if it's not too dark to keep riding, is either 10 or 15 laps.
They split riders into two groups, A and B. The A's start first, followed by the B's shortly after. In theory, if you're a cat4 or 5, the officials will make you do the B race. After a while, when you've proven that you are a safe and fast rider, they'll let you do the A race. (I was lucky to know someone at the event who could attest that I was strong enough to start with the A's right away, a year ago.)
Good things about the event:
a) Good atmosphere.
b) Safe course.
c) Very low racing fees.
d) Good cornering practice. Since the course has four corners, you end up doing over 200 corners in one evening.
a) Easy corners. It's a flat rectangle with a wide road and excellent pavement. You can zoom by the corners; you don't even have to stop pedaling.
b) Riders are quite less aggressive than in a real race, because there's nothing at stake.