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Evanston golf course hosts cycling race

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Golfers weren't the only sports enthusiasts at the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course Saturday.

Nearly 300 cyclists competed in the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race sponsored by Higher Gear, a bike sales and service store with locations in Highland Park and Wilmette, on a winding 1.78 mile race throughout the golf course.

Cyclists at the starting line of the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race held at the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course Saturday.

Cyclocross, according to Higher Gear owner Brendan Sullivan, originated in Europe as a way for cyclists to train in the off season and on an off-road course.

A cyclist rides on the race course during the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race held at the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course Saturday.

Sullivan came up with the idea to host a cyclocross race at the golf course because racing opportunities in Chicago would often fill up fast, leaving many interested cyclists without an event to participate in.

A cyclist competes during the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race held at the Evanston Wilmette Community Golf Course Saturday.

Sullivan approached the Evanston Wilmette Golf Association board in July and suggested that a percentage of the proceeds from the race benefit the non-profit organization. Board member Michael O'Connor said the funds generated from the race through registration fees would "help with the turnaround and improvement of the course."

And aside from benefitting the golf course financially, the event also fit into the organization's vision of the facility as a "multi-use green space," O'Connor said.

Racers and spectators gather at the registration tent for the Rhythm and Blues Revue Cyclocross Race held at the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Saturday.

Riders participating in the first cyclocross race held at the golf course included both men and women, a full range of ages, even children as young as 10, and ran the gamut of abilities from amateurs to pro racers, Sullivan said.

He said he hopes to hold the race again next year.

"If we do it again next year I wouldn't be surprised if we had more than 500 racers," Sullivan said.

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