this buzz of a circuit race, a series of 14.4-mile loops through the streets of philly, showcases many of the country's best men and women as they sprint alongside the schuykill river and hump up the famous manayunk wall. june; www.firstunioncycling.com

european races
european racing comes in two dramas: the grueling, single-day classics and multi-day tours. you will never understand fervor until you have stood among cyclo-crazed euros.

the classics
milan to san remo cycling classic: a fast jaunt down the riviera with an ugly climb - the famed "poggio di san remo" - right before the finish. march; www.kings5.freeserve.co.uk

paris-roubaix
at 260 kilometers, "the queen of the classics" is not the longest or the hardest of the classics. but with the exception of the tour de france, it is the one every rider wants. april; www.letour.fr/stf/roubaix/2003/us

giro di lombardie
as long as you are not riding, there will never be a chance to see lovelier countryside than here in northern italy. long climbs, with gorgeous lake como as a backdrop, make the "race of the falling leaves" is as beautiful as it sounds. october 2003.

the tours
giro d'italia (tour of italy)

with a long history (the first race was held in 1909), the "may feast" is one of cycling's premier events, and the winner's pink jersey one of cycling's most coveted prizes. may; www.ilgiroditalia.it

tour de france
this is it, the super bowl of bicycle racing and - horror, if you are a european aficionado - thanks to lance armstrong, in recent years a stage for american glory. july; www.letour.com

vuelta a españa (tour of spain)