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Old 07-29-12, 08:37 AM   #1
Barrettscv 
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Suburban Gravel Grinder

Most of my cycling starts in Chicago and takes me out to the suburbs. None of my local riding is rural. I need to carefully find bike friendly streets and keep an eye out for reckless drivers. Chicago has some great MUPs, but heavy use by pedestrians and their dogs make these routes unusable during peak hours.

I must be a country boy at heart. I not only enjoy the fitness benefits of cycling, I like good scenery and a little adventure. I really enjoy the cycling away from Chicago in places like Ohio, Wisconsin and central Illinois.

I've wanted to find some off-road gravel travel that increases the sense of exploration, provide a more natural setting, and help me avoid vehicular traffic.

Yesterday I found my cycling asylum. I like all-day bike rides and try to complete several century rides a year. I rode 98 miles and spent 40 miles on the Des Plaines River bike trail. The trail is good quality gravel, except for a few sections that become more like singletrack. A Cyclocross bike with big tires is ideal for the mixed road and trail travel. The 98 miles took 6 hours, 25 minutes excluding two breaks for food.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/204049929

















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Old 07-29-12, 08:42 AM   #2
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More pics;



















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Old 07-29-12, 11:20 AM   #3
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That does look like an idealic cycling spot. Seeing the pic of your bike though, I'm consumed by curiosity over one particular side note: Why is there a fender only on the rear wheel?
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Old 07-29-12, 11:33 AM   #4
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That does look like an idealic cycling spot. Seeing the pic of your bike though, I'm consumed by curiosity over one particular side note: Why is there a fender only on the rear wheel?
Dry weather allows me to run without the need for fenders. However, the rear fender is a project to remove and reinstall. The front fender goes on and comes off without tools and without removing the wheel. Removing the front fenders has benefits, I eliminate toe/fender overlap and the bike is silent. The rear fender can stay on without any negative issues.

In damp weather I run front & rear fenders;



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Old 07-29-12, 12:27 PM   #5
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Fun. Looks to be at least a bit shady too. I'm thinking your area would be a good place for a gathering.
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Old 07-29-12, 12:35 PM   #6
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Fun. Looks to be at least a bit shady too. I'm thinking your area would be a good place for a gathering.
Madison Wisconsin and the rural roads between Madison and Dodgeville would be Epic. It would also be easier travel if coming from MN, Iowa and parts west.

We should talk about this :-)
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Old 07-29-12, 01:19 PM   #7
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Looks like a really nice ride with some beautiful scenery. Maybe a little too pristine and flat for a real "gravel grinder".
It is great having a bike with the versatility to work well on paved and unpaved roads. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well my own monstercross bike works at both ends of that range, limited only by weight for fast road riding and lack of suspension for the rough trails. Plenty of room between those extremes, especially if speed is less of a concern.

I've been curious why you refer to your CX700 as a "Monstercross/29er" as it is clearly not a 29er, which is a type of mountain bike.

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Old 07-29-12, 01:29 PM   #8
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WOW - looks like so much fun. I love places like that. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-29-12, 01:58 PM   #9
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Hi BD,

"29er" is a reference to wheel & tire size. The CX700 is a cross bike that takes a 29er sized wheel and tire. The T34 is a reference to a WWII era Soviet Tank!

Michael
Really, it takes about a 2.1" or wider tire on a 700c rim to make a 29" wheel. The 700cx48 tires on my bike measure a hair under 28" and I'd bet that your wheels with those tires would come out closer to 27". Nit-picky for sure, but I've seen some passionate arguments on the web against using that misnomer in describing monstercross tires.

More important, how do you like the Revelate Tangle bag? Is it as useful as it looks? Do your legs ever rub against the bag when it is loaded?
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Old 07-29-12, 02:21 PM   #10
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What a beautiful place to ride ! I see you have some sort of slick tires. I like some knobs on my gravelgrinder tires (Racing Ralph on the CX and Furious Fred on the Rigid Mtb) Slicks are a bit too sketchy in fast turns IMO.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:36 PM   #11
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Nice pics of beautiful ride. Nice bikes too! As a kid living in Chicago in the fifties I enjoyed going out to the Fox river or the forest preserve and walking on a trail. Other then passing through O'Hare have not been back to visit the city since the mid sixties.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:37 PM   #12
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Nice pics! What is all that green stuff on the ground? I leave my rear fender on my Cross Check for the same reasons as you. The front rattles a little so It only goes on for rain. I've only had it on for testing. I love how silent the bike is and wildlife lets me get really close.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:45 PM   #13
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I live right by there. It's a nice trail. Last year I took it up to Independence Grove and back. Today I was tooling around with my wife on it. This post reminds me that I need to take another long ride along that trail.
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Old 07-29-12, 03:25 PM   #14
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What a beautiful place to ride ! I see you have some sort of slick tires. I like some knobs on my gravelgrinder tires (Racing Ralph on the CX and Furious Fred on the Rigid Mtb) Slicks are a bit too sketchy in fast turns IMO.
Yes, the 700x38 Vittoria Randonneur Hyper would fail in any kind of technical riding or in damp conditions. Illinois is as flat as a pancake and when conditions are dry, the Hyper is safe if I ride with a little TLC (tender loving care). It is very fast and a lot of fun. I do avoid tilting the bike when on loose gravel.

I like to use other tires, like the Schwalbe Marathon Cross, for more slick conditions.

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Old 07-29-12, 03:35 PM   #15
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I live right by there. It's a nice trail. Last year I took it up to Independence Grove and back. Today I was tooling around with my wife on it. This post reminds me that I need to take another long ride along that trail.
Let me know, I'll join you.
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Old 07-29-12, 05:02 PM   #16
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Side load bottle cages might help with the Tangle.

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Old 07-29-12, 05:40 PM   #17
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Wow...looks like a great route!
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Old 07-29-12, 06:54 PM   #18
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Nice looking trail Michael, and one that I could probable get to some day. looks like a fairly short ride out Russel Road from I94 to the trail. There is a TA truck stop right there, so some evening if I'm heading up behind the cheddar curtain for an am delivery, it would be very doable.
How is the surface on the north end? Would my 27 X 1 1/4 tires be OK?
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Old 07-29-12, 07:26 PM   #19
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Nice looking trail Michael, and one that I could probable get to some day. looks like a fairly short ride out Russel Road from I94 to the trail. There is a TA truck stop right there, so some evening if I'm heading up behind the cheddar curtain for an am delivery, it would be very doable.
How is the surface on the north end? Would my 27 X 1 1/4 tires be OK?
Hi Dan,

Yes, 27 X 1 1/4 should be OK. A 27 X 1 1/4 is an ISO (ETRTO) Size: 32-630 , if I have that right.

I rode the north end of the route with a 32 wide tire last year during dry weather without any problem. I would avoid wet weather without a wider tire with some tread on it.

95% of the trail is as firm as asphalt, a few sections are a little more loose and sandy. A little common sense should be enough to avoid any problems.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:02 PM   #20
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Hi Dan,

Yes, 27 X 1 1/4 should be OK. A 27 X 1 1/4 is an ISO (ETRTO) Size: 32-630 , if I have that right.

I rode the north end of the route with a 32 wide tire last year during dry weather without any problem. I would avoid wet weather without a wider tire with some tread on it.

95% of the trail is as firm as asphalt, a few sections are a little more loose and sandy. A little common sense should be enough to avoid any problems.
Thanks, sounds like a perfect spot. I'm going to ask dispatch if there is a load going to Pleasant Prairie for Thursday morning, and maybe I can hit the trail Wednesday evening.
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Old 07-31-12, 05:09 PM   #21
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Well, unless I get thrown a curve ball in the meantime, and weather permitting, I plan to ride the north end of the trail Thursday morning. I'll be starting from Russel Road, just south of the Wisconsin line. Anybody in the area up for a ride?
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Old 07-31-12, 07:39 PM   #22
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Nice pictures. How far north did you go? Growing up, we used to fish near hwy 120, west of Waukegan. Weren't no bike paths then.

Doesn't look like the drought is affecting you guys up there. Where's that dam at?
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Old 08-01-12, 04:36 AM   #23
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Hi, sknhgy,

Click the link for a map, and then click on the parts of the map where you would like to see greater detail.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/204049929

The dam is west of Lake Forest in the Wright Woods Forest Preserve, near the corner of St. Marys Rd and Everett Rd. A pedestrian bridge along the path crosses the river. I took the picture from that bridge. See;

http://www.lcfpd.org/preserves/index...&object_id=218

This map might be useful, scroll down and view the South Map, the bridge is near the middle of that section.

http://www.lcfpd.org/docs/map_22079.pdf

We were as dry as I've ever seen up until two weeks ago. A few rain storms have refreshed the meadows. The farms in northern Illinois are still in bad shape.
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Old 08-01-12, 05:10 AM   #24
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Well, unless I get thrown a curve ball in the meantime, and weather permitting, I plan to ride the north end of the trail Thursday morning. I'll be starting from Russel Road, just south of the Wisconsin line. Anybody in the area up for a ride?
Dan, print out this map. It's for the northern section in Lake County.

http://www.lcfpd.org/docs/map_22079.pdf
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Old 08-01-12, 05:52 AM   #25
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Dan, print out this map. It's for the northern section in Lake County.

http://www.lcfpd.org/docs/map_22079.pdf
Thank you. I'll do that.
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