know some good places to bike around chicago? i'm pretty new to this, and the suburbs haven't been easy to learn (drivers out here aren't really used to bikes, plus there's like no shoulder so i use the sidewalk half the time) i think the city would be a good place to start out...
Contact the Illinois Department of Transportation for bike maps. They have comprehensive maps of all bike trails in the state. There are a few bike trails that are out in the south suburbs and beyond. You may not need to come to Chicago just for some riding. You'll find once you get to Chicago, you'll have to head to the north suburbs for the good stuff. It's an urban jungle hell until you hit Evanston.
thanks! i'll definitely check out what's around me (south suburbs)...and yeah i'm getting more used to the streets here anyway. i used to be afraid of holding up traffic (you know, they don't have bike lanes out here) but now i realise that bikes are a part of traffic too...
i would like bike up to the city, though--maybe lake shore drive would be nice.
Although I am writing from California, I live in Chicago. I often do the bike path if it is early. Ride south to 71st street. Stop in Hyde park for a late breakfast or early lunch. The north side is to busy. You can really move on the path once you get past McCormick place.
I suggest an alternative source for maps of bike routes in the Chicago area: the Chicago Bicycle Federation (www.chibikefed.org) sells a map that shows recommended routes throughout the metro area. Its recommendations are based on data gathered from actual riders, whereas the State Department of Transportation relies on some other system that I've found to be pretty unreliable. I used to live in South Downers Grove, and the roads the State map recommends are absolutely nuts.
I don't know which South suburb you live in, but there is a paved rails-to-trail that runs east-west just south of Highway 30 from Park Forest to New Lenox. In the Mokena area, you can turn south and find some nice rural two-lane roads for rides. The web site for the trail is www.oprt.org.
There is a great recreational riding club in the South suburbs named the "Bike Psychos" (www.bikepsychos.org). They are based on Oak Lawn. They sponsor a terrific century in late August in Coal City, about 20 miles south of Joliet.
Strange... I find the IDOT maps tons better than the chicago bike fed map. It covers more area and is easier to read. I've also never had problems finding trails using the IDOT map, but I've had a problem or two with the Chicago Bike fed map. :-/ Strange.
I'm from Park Forest (south of Chicago) and registered today Sep. 2005 to find a riding partner in the Chicago area. I like to ride 12-16 mph for 20-50 miles and I don't like to ride the same trail twice in one year. I prefer weekends early in the morning. Traveling out of state is no problem (WI, MI, IN, IL, IO) I'd rather ride trails than routs, but I'd try one if someone has one they realy like. I just bought a new Trek 7300 but the Schwin I have from high school has bene good to me all these years.
Yikes! I just re-read your thread. Park Forest is the south suburbs of Chicago- like way far south.
Have you thought about riding Western Avenue south to like... Beecher or something like that? Or if you can stomach riding Halsted, you can ride it north, or you can continue to ride it south. Or have you tried Monee Road? If you start at the corner of Monee and Western and ride west on Monee, you could probably get some good mileage in that way. Or you could just ride the neighborhood streets of Park Forest. Do a fun ride like a "tribe ride" where you ride all the different native american streets. There are a lot of ways to do it.
I also recommend getting that map I suggested. If you really want, you could hop the Amtrak at Flossmoor and head out to Joliet and ride some of the harder core trails out in that area.
I've ridden just about every street out this way. University Park has a trail system that includes tunnels under some of their streets. It also leads to Govener's State University, which has some very cool (but ageing) industrial artwork scattered around the campus. You can clime into and onto many of them. As a teen I've ridden my bike between all of the local towns and country rodes while visiting freinds. Once I rode to Chicago and back via Torrence Ave from Sauk Village (30 miles each way). I also have the IDOT maps (I highly recomend getting them, they're FREE) and have toured about 70 of the llinois trail systems. I generaly dislike rideing the street routs and try to ride a different trail each weekend.
My friend used to ride from Park Forest to Chicago via Torrence, then jump the bike trail at 74th Street and head into downtown.
Gosh, I forgot about those statues and artwork at GSU. When I was growing up, I used to attend drama classes on Saturdays, then go to the duck pond outside and wander the campus. When I hit 6th grade, I used to hang out at the pool and watch this chick and her swim team swim the laps in the pool. I felt like I knew every section of GSU.
A couple of times a year I ride the Old Plank Railrode Trail from Western Ave to where it ends in the west in Joliet at some private club across from some old baseball field. I usualy stop in Frank fort at the grain tower for icecream. Thats about the half-way point. They have a cool antique mall and some good resturaunts there too.
I've been covering the trails in Joliet too this sumer. Downtown along the river on the I&M Corridor Trail through the old iron works is prety interisting part of the trail. Be sure to stop at Dellwod Park, just a little north of the works, it has a real neat old stone damn inside the park.
The newest trail called the Wauponsee Glacial Trail is prety borring, very much like the Great Western Trail. Unless you like corn fileds. The tail is still limestone, I dont know if they plan on paving it, but it will still be a dull ride even if they do. The north end of the same trail is called the Sugar Creek Trail. it's prety nice, but short, and starts at a newer forest preserve near the new Chicago Speedway race track on RT30.
Some trails I haven't ridden yet are in north west IL, Rockford and allong the
I'll give my friend a call. He now lives in Hawaii, but all he used to do when he wasn't in school (I think he went to Prarie State) was ride, ride, ride. He should know of some places you haven't covered. He also lived in Park Forest.
Guess what! I just joined Folks on Spokes riding club out of Flossmore. It looks like they do a lot of road bikeing. Not my favorite but I'll give it a try and see if anything developes. I'm sure there's something I can learn about cadence or get a little more competative to improve speed/distance etc. At the very least, I wont have to ride by myself. They have three Sunday rides and one meeting left this season.
F.O.S. people were very receptive. They ride in two or more groups that cover different distances every sunday morning. I decided to try to ride for the longer distance but had to drop back when I realized that I couldn't keep at 18 mpr for the 65 miles they intended to ride. The slower group starts on the same route (but turns back sooner) so I was able to wait for them. I did'nt get much riding in this year or last so I'll have to recondition myself to be able to ride more agresively.
They were realy nice and considerate. It was interesting to see how they worked together as a group, pointing out obsticals, calling car-back's, drafting and taking turns leading the pack. I could tell they were holding back for me. I did 25 miles at about 16mpr. Pretty good for me. I also found out that they ride on Wednesday's and Saturday's wich were not mentioned on their website.
I was the only one without Lyrcra shorts or clipless pedals. Any way, the last meeting of the year is coming up. A pizza party they said, so all is not lost, lol.
I was totaly amaized at how many rode riders there are on Sunday mornings on the old roads out side of town and on the Old Plank Road Trail. I usualy ride Saturday mornings, there were TWICE the amount of people I usualy see.