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  1. #1
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    Routes from Chicago to Fox River Trail?

    I've been pouring over the Chicagoland Bicycle Map and checking web sites such as mapmyride.com looking for a decent way(s) to ride from Chicago to Elgin so I can then bike the Fox River Trail. I'm meeting friends at the Elgin Metra stop and then we're biking up to Elkhorn, WI. I know it'd be easier to just ride the Metra with the group but I want to bike the whole thing, door to door. I've already done similar distances this year so I'm not worried about that.

    If I could take the Illinois Prairie Path over from Maywood I'd be mostly set. However, I'm on a nice road bike and have never ridden that trail before. While I've ridden road bikes with 23c tires on crushed limestone it just doesn't seem smart to ride that far on an unfamiliar trail, especially at the very start of the trip. And it'd probably be slow going.

    All the good roads on the Chicagoland Map are short and very fragmented. I'd be zig zagging back and forth trying to stay on the recommended roads, adding ugly miles to an already long trip. There just doesn't seem to be a good way to travel due west on a bike! I'll be riding out from the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago near Diversey and California (near northwest side).

    Anyone ever done something like this or have any suggestions for good roads along the way? I'm still trying to figure out whether to go north or south of O'Hare at this point so I'm pretty much open to anything!

    I had already planned (and mostly ridden) a great route heading north out of the city and then northwest through the Fox Lake area but the group I'm meeting up with is adamant about doing the Fox River Trail. I could just ride alone but I'd like to be social if possible.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5stone View Post
    I've been pouring over the Chicagoland Bicycle Map and checking web sites such as mapmyride.com looking for a decent way(s) to ride from Chicago to Elgin so I can then bike the Fox River Trail. I'm meeting friends at the Elgin Metra stop and then we're biking up to Elkhorn, WI. I know it'd be easier to just ride the Metra with the group but I want to bike the whole thing, door to door. I've already done similar distances this year so I'm not worried about that.

    If I could take the Illinois Prairie Path over from Maywood I'd be mostly set. However, I'm on a nice road bike and have never ridden that trail before. While I've ridden road bikes with 23c tires on crushed limestone it just doesn't seem smart to ride that far on an unfamiliar trail, especially at the very start of the trip. And it'd probably be slow going.

    All the good roads on the Chicagoland Map are short and very fragmented. I'd be zig zagging back and forth trying to stay on the recommended roads, adding ugly miles to an already long trip. There just doesn't seem to be a good way to travel due west on a bike! I'll be riding out from the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago near Diversey and California (near northwest side).

    Anyone ever done something like this or have any suggestions for good roads along the way? I'm still trying to figure out whether to go north or south of O'Hare at this point so I'm pretty much open to anything!

    I had already planned (and mostly ridden) a great route heading north out of the city and then northwest through the Fox Lake area but the group I'm meeting up with is adamant about doing the Fox River Trail. I could just ride alone but I'd like to be social if possible.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.
    Well, if the group is so jazzed up to ride the Fox River trail, why are they skipping most of it? From the Elgin Metra (assuming the one at the casino and not Big Timber), you'll roll through Elgin, East Dundee, Carpentersville and a little chunk of Algonquin before the river bends and the trail departs and becomes the Prairie Trail... Which can also be scenic.

    I can't really offer a good route for you. But, I can say that I did a 48 mile loop between the Fox River Trail and Prairie Path last friday. The PP was very hard packed, and there were a lot of folks on road bikes. Not saying it's an ideal ride, but you could probably do it without much problem (although a 25 if not even slightly wider would be a little better than 23's).

    Ever think of just trying the PP and using Metra as a backup? The UP/West line will hit all the towns along the PP until you bend north out of Winfield. You can even see the path from many of the train depots. If you try it and have a problem you could always catch the train into Geneva and then ride up the FRT to Elgin. That is, assuming, that bikes are allowed on the weekend you're trying this...

  3. #3
    Fat man in a little coat nixternal's Avatar
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    Ya, you can use the GWT out of Maywood, but getting to there from the city is the suck. I usually take Washington all the way out if I am on my 7.3FX. On my road bike I tend to get to Grand Ave. and take that all the way in. Definitely not the friendliest road but it works. I haven't taken my road bike on any of those trails and I probably won't either, though I see a lot of people doing it, and I do see a lot of those people at Prairie Path Cycle in Winfield getting a new tube as well.

    One thing about that Chicagoland map, it is outdated and it kind of sucks, plus I can't find mine to back that up, just going by what I remember.

    If you do find a nice ride out to Elgin, please let us know, or at least me.

  4. #4
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm missing something...


    If the goal is to meet friends in Elgin and ride from there, I would take a Metra train to Elgin. Bikes are allowed except inbound rush hours in the morning and outbound rush hours in the afternoon.

    Michael
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Maybe I'm missing something...


    If the goal is to meet friends in Elgin and ride from there, I would take a Metra train to Elgin. [b[Bikes are allowed except inbound rush hours in the morning and outbound rush hours in the afternoon.[/b]

    Michael
    Not always:

    "13. Bicycles are permitted on all weekday trains arriving in Chicago after 9:30 AM and leaving Chicago before 3:00 PM and after 7:00 PM, and on all weekend trains, with the following exceptions:

    Blues Fest June 12 - 14 (weekend only: June 13 & 14)
    All days during Taste of Chicago June 26 - July 5
    Lollapalooza August 7 - 9
    Air and Water Show August 15 - 16
    Jazz Fest September 4 - 6 (weekend only: September 5 & 6)"

    From http://metrarail.com/general.html#Bikes

  6. #6
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    MY goal has been to use this as a long training ride in preparation for a double century. My original route was about 125 miles long and used the North Branch Trail > Skokie Valley Trail and then roads all the way to Elkhorn WI, with some detours to take in various hills that I know about by Alpine Valley, etc.

    THEIR goal is simply to ride up to a friend's cabin in WI, only doing about 70 miles. They feel comfortable on the Fox River Trail as they've done it before. I've been planning this for several weeks while they all have recently decided to ride up which is why the change of plans. I was trying to figure out a way to combine our goals. I've taken my bike on the Metra a number of times (although it's been beat up a bit on a few rides which I'm not happy about).

    I'm totally on the fence about this. Today, after more research last night, I'm thinking of sticking to my original plan and then riding back on Sunday with a few of the harder core members of the group who aren't coming back by car. For the ride Sunday we're likely to ride about 50-70 miles and then Metra it back, so it might make a nice compromise.

    Here's the non-Prairie Path route (based on the Chicagoland Bike Map) that I am considering so far:

    It takes the North Branch Trail north and then jumps off where indicated. Also, the map doesn't show that there's a path in the Busse Woods area that I'd be hopping on near where Golf hits 90

    http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united...24716026183477

    So that's the route, about 31.5 from the North Branch, again based on that bike map. It's clearly not great and I'm not looking forward to it.

    So right now I'm leaning towards just doing my original route alone (with the benefit also of being able to ride a good bit harder and faster than the group.....)

    Oh, and we're doing this on Friday 7/24 re: Metra & bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Maybe I'm missing something...


    If the goal is to meet friends in Elgin and ride from there, I would take a Metra train to Elgin. Bikes are allowed except inbound rush hours in the morning and outbound rush hours in the afternoon.

    Michael
    Last edited by 5stone; 07-09-09 at 11:34 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MJH2 View Post
    Well, if the group is so jazzed up to ride the Fox River trail, why are they skipping most of it? From the Elgin Metra (assuming the one at the casino and not Big Timber), you'll roll through Elgin, East Dundee, Carpentersville and a little chunk of Algonquin before the river bends and the trail departs and becomes the Prairie Trail... Which can also be scenic.

    I can't really offer a good route for you. But, I can say that I did a 48 mile loop between the Fox River Trail and Prairie Path last friday. The PP was very hard packed, and there were a lot of folks on road bikes. Not saying it's an ideal ride, but you could probably do it without much problem (although a 25 if not even slightly wider would be a little better than 23's).

    Ever think of just trying the PP and using Metra as a backup? The UP/West line will hit all the towns along the PP until you bend north out of Winfield. You can even see the path from many of the train depots. If you try it and have a problem you could always catch the train into Geneva and then ride up the FRT to Elgin. That is, assuming, that bikes are allowed on the weekend you're trying this...
    I did think of that and am not all that worried about road bike on hard packed limestone. It's less of a safety, skid out issue and more of a flat(s) at the start of a very long ride that I don't want to deal with. Also don't want to deal with altering tire pressure for different parts of the trip. I thought about using the Metra as a bail out if need be but I'm also concerned about meeting up with them. It's going to be tricky to time it as it is without the group or me waiting around. I can estimate my pace pretty accurately but that's a road, not limestone path pace.

    That said, I do really want to ride both the PP and the Fox River trail someday and have been itching to do so.

  8. #8
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Hi 5 stone,

    I've commuted from Chicago to Schaumburg dozens of times and I have a suggestion that might work.

    I avoid the roads within 5 miles of O'Hare. All of them are very congested and none of them are safe.

    I'll ride my bike to the Rosemont CTA/Pace terminal and ride a bus to Busse Woods. The Route 606 bus can drop you off at Golf Rd & New Wilke where the north segment of the Busse Woods trails begin. From there traveling west is easy on Schaumburg roads. http://www.pacebus.com/sub/schedules...sp?RouteNo=606

    The Route 616 is even faster with no stops between Rosemont & Arlington Hts Rd. http://www.pacebus.com/sub/schedules...sp?RouteNo=616

    EDIT: The bike will need to ride on the front of the bus. The bus racks used are the same models used on Chicago buses. I use a bungee cord to keep the front wheel arm in place. My bike was never damaged using these racks on these buses.

    This might make your trip permissibly safe.

    Michael
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 07-13-09 at 11:20 AM.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    [QUOTE=5stone;9247530]

    Here's the non-Prairie Path route (based on the Chicagoland Bike Map) that I am considering so far:

    It takes the North Branch Trail north and then jumps off where indicated. Also, the map doesn't show that there's a path in the Busse Woods area that I'd be hopping on near where Golf hits 90

    http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united...24716026183477
    /QUOTE]

    I live about 2 miles East of Busse Woods, and have been looking for a way from my place to the FRT for a while. I still haven't found an easy or direct way to get there, and you can't go West from Busse Woods just South of Golf without riding on Golf. The route you've marked out is the most direct in that area.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Hi 5 stone,

    I've commuted from Chicago to Schaumburg dozens of times and I have a suggestion that might work.

    I avoid the roads within 5 miles of O'Hare. All of them are very congested and none of them are safe.

    I'll ride my bike to the Rosemont CTA/Pace terminal and ride a bus to Busse Woods. The Route 606 bus can drop you off at Golf Rd & New Wilke where the north segment of the Busse Woods trails begin. From there traveling west is easy on Schaumburg roads. http://www.pacebus.com/sub/schedules...sp?RouteNo=606

    The Route 616 is even faster with no stops between Rosemont & Arlington Hts Rd. http://www.pacebus.com/sub/schedules...sp?RouteNo=616

    EDIT: The bike will need to ride on the front of the bus. The bus racks used are the same models used on Chicago buses. I use a bungee cord to keep the front wheel arm in place. My bike was never damaged using these racks on these buses.

    This might make your trip permissibly safe.

    Michael
    Thanks for the tips and I'm going to keep this in mind. I do want to ride the Fox River Trail and I don't have a vehicle so I'm going to have to get out there somehow at some point. I have no problem putting the bike on a bus and have done it in Chicago a number of times.

    I've basically made up my mind that I'm going to ride solo and head up the north and then northwest route I mentioned that uses the North Branch/Skokie trails. I rode part of it twice this past weekend and really enjoyed the route. I just don't want to deal with an unfamiliar route and tons of traffic at the start of such a long ride.

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