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.