Wintering on the Illinois Prairie Path/Fox River Trail
Anyone know what conditions are like on the Illinois Prairie Path and Fox River Trail, and their branches as well like Virgil Gilman after a snowfall and during the winter in general? I'm gonna be there over Thanksgiving and Christmas for a total of two weeks and I'm wondering if I should bring my studded tires or stick with knobbies.
I just moved here from the Twin Cities this summer and have been using the Praire Path for commuting this fall. From what I have been told I doubt that anyone removes smow from it so the studded tires probably would not be a bad idea. That of course depends on if it snows here. I don't bike in the snow and the past couple of years I was able to ride right up to Thanks Giving in the Twin Cities so you are probably going to be fine for that. Also keep in mind that the Praire Path is mostly crushed gravel and won't get as slippery as pavement. It also gets a lot of trafic from people walking dogs,etc. and my guess is that any accumulation will quickly get packed down. Sorry I can't directly answere your question but I hope that helps.
I have ridden the Des Plaines RT for about 5 years, and it changes quickly. It can be hard packed (i.e. frozen) at times, but when you get a thaw, you have about an inch of slop. If it snows, it is there until it melts, which also causes the slop condition. Plus, if you have horses on the path early in the morning during a thaw, you will be riding in their hoofprints, which have rattled me so bad I rode in the twigs and sticks on the shoulder.
I'd bring the studs. You never know what you may encounter during this time of year.
I don't think so. I checked into it this fall for commuting and Metra only lets bikes on the train from May 1 to October 30 but you can double check at the link below. They are funny about this down here. I can understand limiting bikes on packed trains durring rush hour but they seem a little too strict or antibike. I understand that the Chicago Bikecycle Federation had to lobby hard to get this much to happen.
I also ride the Des Plains River Trail and it is much rougher than the Praire Path. The Des Plains trail is packed dirt with tree roots and is more like off road. It is a mess when it is wet. The Praire Path is graded, has drainage, and consists of crushed lime stone or pavement. I did ride home in the rain one night and it was not too bad.