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  1. #1
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    Just moved to Chicago, looking for long ride advice

    Hi all. I just moved to Chicago and need local wisdom: I like to go on long-ish rides, 80-120m and so far I'm having trouble finding the variety I'm used to in my previous home. I've lived in the NYC area for the past 12 years and--I'm not being a Yankee snob, I swear! Totally psyched about Chicago!--there is no shortage of bike friendly rural roads in every direction around the city; I don't think I ever duplicated a long ride in all my time there. Here, however, I'm stymied a little bit: biking in the city is awesome & fun, and the paths I've found around (North Shore Channel Trail, Green Bay Trail, Des Plaines Trail, Prairie Path, Lakefront Trail, etc.) certainly are fun and provide enough distance for long rides. The problem is that I like variety, and every time I've tried to ride outside the city but NOT on one of the paths, I seem to find myself on these big highway-ish roads that are NOT fun to bike on; I don't like to be on strip-mall/big-box-store-filled roads with tons of debris on the edges and cars hurtling by at 50 mph.

    Does anyone have advice, either specific routes or general strategy? I am really excited to explore the area outside Chicago by bike and would love ideas on how to do that. I'm looking for quieter roads that have fun stuff to look at and less speedy-car stress. Oh, also, I don't like to drive to do a ride (just a personal preference/quirk) so I guess I'm looking for suggestions within a 70m radius from Chicago. Oh yeah, one more thing: hills! I miss em! Any hilly rides would be an extra bonus. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    NeoRetroGrouch
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    Check out the VCR routes.

    http://veloclubroubaix.blogspot.com/

    Also, when I rode with them, a small group was doing a long ride (80-130 miles) every Tuesday from Lake Forest so you may want to contact them to see what else they are doing.

    Terry

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    Thanks, this is perfect. Much appreciated!

    Quote Originally Posted by TurboTurtle View Post
    Check out the VCR routes.

    http://veloclubroubaix.blogspot.com/

    Also, when I rode with them, a small group was doing a long ride (80-130 miles) every Tuesday from Lake Forest so you may want to contact them to see what else they are doing.

    Terry

  4. #4
    One Man Fast Brick hubcap's Avatar
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    Consider familiarizing yourself with Metra routes and schedules. It would allow you to start your rides from some of the more extreme outside burbs where you can be on less congested roads.

  5. #5
    Senior Member 3bluebikes's Avatar
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    nolalala, here is current ride list Elmhurst Bicycle Club. Scroll through. There is quite a variety.
    http://www.elmhurstbicycling.org/rides/currentRide.aspx

  6. #6
    Member antmuzic's Avatar
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    Come join us on the GLR Brevets! http://www.glrrando.org/

    Also read the Chainlink. There are some good friendly folk there (and of course some of the other kind too)
    http://www.thechainlink.org/

    Also as previously mentioned, Metra is your friend. I've ridden out to crystal lake or Harvard on the Metra, then taken the bike north to lake Geneva WI to libertyville, IL and then the Metra back in. There's a ton of similar options.

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    I'm out in Elgin, and riding out west of here near Elburn/Hampshire is similar to what you're describing. However there is a definite lack of hills.

  8. #8
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Here is a great route starting from the north end of the Lakefront bike path;

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/91403615/

    Let me know if you want to join me for a ride. I'm riding most weekends. You won't be able to PM me. I'll post my email if you you reply.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 05-11-13 at 10:02 AM.
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  9. #9
    iab
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    McHenry county rides, http://www.mchenrybicycleclub.org/

    Quiet country roads. Flat as a pancake. A couple 1/4 mile 15-20% grades in Bull Valley, but that's it. If you want hills, you go to SW Wisconsin - Bluemounds, Mineral Point, Dodgeville, etc.

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    Thanks, atallen223. I actually went out in that direction just before writing my original post; I was trying to get from my home in Logan Square out to some of the bike paths that gmaps indicates are in Schaumburg. It was the roads between me and that area, specifically Touhy Ave, Higgins Rd, and Oakton St that inspired me to write here: I found them to be very un-bike-friendly. Is there a route you can recommend from Chicago out to the northwest that is a little more chill? Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by atallen223 View Post
    I'm out in Elgin, and riding out west of here near Elburn/Hampshire is similar to what you're describing. However there is a definite lack of hills.

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    Hi Barrettscv . Thanks for the route and the offer! My schedule is a little backward--I usually go on my longer rides during the week, shorter rides on weekends--but perhaps we can find a time, it'd be fun to meet some bike folks in the city. My email is natchez [at] gmail.com . Oh, and I'm not an especially fast rider, usually 15-17mph.

  12. #12
    Member antmuzic's Avatar
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    I live out in that area nolalala and the East/West routes through there on pretty sparse. Oakton, Touhy and Higgins are roads I don't even like driving on.

    Are you trying to get to the Forest Preserve in Schaumburg with the trails? Here's an option:

    Take Elston or Milwaukee (both have bike lanes, Elston is not as busy) to the North Branch Trail at Devon and Milwaukee. Stop and eat a hot dog at Superdawg. Take the Trail to Howard. At Howard go west, through Park Ridge until you pick up the Desplaines River Trail (crushed limestone and dirt). Go up just a bit until you get to Algonquin. Algonquin is not terrible but busy in parts. I shouldn't be anywhere near as bad and Oakton, Touhy or Higgins.

    Here's a map: http://goo.gl/maps/7eUHo

    This map still puts you on Oakton and Higgins briefly. I don't have much experience with this route after Elmhurst Rd to the Forest Preserve. After Elmhurst, Algonquin gets pretty busy. Still, I would probably either stay on Algonquin and hit the FP off of Golf or try Elmhurst south to Landmeir West to the FP.

    Not sure if this actually helps now that I read it... But parts of this route are good rides. The North Branch trail can be taken up to the Botanical Gardens where you can pick up the Skokie Valley path and ride it all the way to Lake Bluff where there's a very good brewpub. The Desplaines River trail is fun, but a little rugged.

    I could let you know the next time I plan a ride - I see your email below.

    Good luck!

    Adam
    Quote Originally Posted by nolalala View Post
    Thanks, atallen223. I actually went out in that direction just before writing my original post; I was trying to get from my home in Logan Square out to some of the bike paths that gmaps indicates are in Schaumburg. It was the roads between me and that area, specifically Touhy Ave, Higgins Rd, and Oakton St that inspired me to write here: I found them to be very un-bike-friendly. Is there a route you can recommend from Chicago out to the northwest that is a little more chill? Thanks!

  13. #13
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Here is a bike-friendly circuit that starts near Bucktown and includes the North Branch Trail and Sheridan Road.

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/207754043
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  14. #14
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolalala View Post
    Thanks, atallen223. I actually went out in that direction just before writing my original post; I was trying to get from my home in Logan Square out to some of the bike paths that gmaps indicates are in Schaumburg. It was the roads between me and that area, specifically Touhy Ave, Higgins Rd, and Oakton St that inspired me to write here: I found them to be very un-bike-friendly. Is there a route you can recommend from Chicago out to the northwest that is a little more chill? Thanks!

    Take Northwest Highway out, I took it from where I live on the NW side of Chicago to Woodstock, it was just shy of 50 miles one way and there was plenty of hills after Cary. However it does go through some busier areas, but once you get far enough out it is smooth sailing. But limited shoulder and fast speed limits (50 I think).

    Otherwise I have a path that takes me up a local MUP to a less used one, Skokie Valley Trail, and then some roads further north into Wisconsin.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  15. #15
    that bike nut BikingGrad80's Avatar
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    I live in Niles and often ride with the Evanston Bike Club. Starting from my home the majority of my rides either head North and West to Barrington and Barrington Hills or due North through Lake Forest Gurneee and Kenosha. Sherridan RD. St. Mary's Rd the Skokie Valley Bikeway, Oplaine Rd are some well known road routes along the Kenosha route and The Barrington Route Cuba Rd, Long Grove Rd, Checker Rd, Spring Creek Rd.

    Here is my Kenosha Route
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/15795046 it is a bit old. I use a more direct route now on Riverwoods, Portwine, Landwier Rd, and Pfingston through Bannockburn, Deerfield, and Northbrook.

    Here is one of my fav Metra to bike rides. Milwaukee North to Round Lake or Fox Lake (then you have to ride on Rt-12 for a mile or so to go over Fox Lake which isn't the most fun part to Wilmot Rd) ride arround Lake Geneva, Wi and I come back on the Harvard Metra or take Queen Anne Rd back from Hebron to Woodstock.
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/14700296

  16. #16
    that bike nut BikingGrad80's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolalala View Post
    Thanks, atallen223. I actually went out in that direction just before writing my original post; I was trying to get from my home in Logan Square out to some of the bike paths that gmaps indicates are in Schaumburg. It was the roads between me and that area, specifically Touhy Ave, Higgins Rd, and Oakton St that inspired me to write here: I found them to be very un-bike-friendly. Is there a route you can recommend from Chicago out to the northwest that is a little more chill? Thanks!
    From Logan Square I would follow the canal trail using Kedzie or something then get on Sheridan Rd in northern Evanston.

    The Arlington 500 is on Sunday. It starts in Barrington and goes all over central Lake County. It'd be worth doing for $15. You can get there either by car or take the UPNW to Barrington and the ride start is 1 mile west.

  17. #17
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    Welcome to the Chicago! My suggesting would be to get a copy of this map: http://www.activetrans.org/bikemap . It's the best $10 you'll ever spend... Good luck and have fun. There are some great trails/bike friendly roads around the area.

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