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Road Cycling Chicago

Old 03-14-15, 06:32 PM
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shona
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Road Cycling Chicago

My husband has to be in Chicago on business April 29-May 3 and I am tagging along. I would like to rent a road bike 1-2 days weather permitting. These are my questions: Is it likely to still be cold and/or snowy during that time (I live in San Antonio so I'm a weather wimp)?. Assuming weather permits, are there any bike shops that rent bikes within the city and if there are, are there any bike trails within the city? I would like my ride to be at least 40 miles. I won't be able to travel outside the city to ride. Thanks for your help.
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Old 03-16-15, 01:17 AM
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Hey Shona. My very first post here, and hopefully I can be of some help. Here goes:

A). Weather-wise, you'll be absolutely fine. Maybe not San Antonio fine, but probably no need for even leg/arm warmers by those dates you've listed.

B). Rentals. Not sure if any shops rent, but I just checked spinlister.com and there seems to be plenty of decent and affordable options being offered up.

C). Riding. Well, the obvious choice is the Lakeshore path; however, I'm going caution you strongly here. South of Buckingham fountain, it's "OK." North of that, and it's a death trap. Alright, that might be a bit harsh, but it's a miserable ride where you'll be competing with pathaletes tucked into full TT position, errant dogs, tons of joggers, kiddie strollers, meandering tourists....you name it. Riding the shores of Lake Michigan holds a bit a appeal, but trust me: You will not be getting that quality 40-mile ride you're looking for.

Now, you say you won't be able to travel outside the city to ride, but here's one suggestion to consider.

1. Grab your rental bike, jump on the Lakeshore path, and start heading south. When you get down to 59th Street, hop on the Metra Electric Line train South (bikes are allowed). Map and schedule here:

Metra Electric (ME) Line Map

2. When you get to the Matteson station, hop off. This Metra station sits literally right on top a very nice path called the Old Plank Road Trail.

Old Plank Road Trail - Illinois

You'll basically be on the Eastern-most end of the trail, and it isn't very "scenic" down there. But start heading West, and things start improving. Half-way to Joliet, you'll come upon historic downtown Frankfort where you'll have plenty of lunch options. Continue to Joliet, turn around, and by the time you get back to the Matteson station you'll have easily logged your 40 miles.

Hope that helps!! If you decide to give it a whirl, let me know and I'll gladly follow-up with some light-traffic roads off of Old Plank Road in the SW suburbs you can bike.

Last edited by Ivory88; 03-16-15 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 03-16-15, 08:33 AM
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shona
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Thank you for taking the time Ivory88
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Old 03-16-15, 09:01 AM
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I will second Ivory88's caution about the lakefront. Stay south if you ride it at all.

Another option for you is to ride the Illinois Prairie Path. It's a mix of paved trail and packed gravel but it's plenty long (60 miles), hooks into other trail systems, and is generally not very crowded. Should you want to do that, you can take the Blue Line L to Forest Park which is the end of the L line and the start of the prairie path. You can take your bikes on the L anytime except 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM weekdays (e.g., you can get on at 3:55 PM even though it will after 4 PM when you arrive at your station).

Last edited by Cyclosaurus; 03-16-15 at 09:01 AM. Reason: stupid grammar
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Old 03-21-15, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclosaurus View Post
I will second Ivory88's caution about the lakefront. Stay south if you ride it at all.

Another option for you is to ride the Illinois Prairie Path. It's a mix of paved trail and packed gravel but it's plenty long (60 miles), hooks into other trail systems, and is generally not very crowded. Should you want to do that, you can take the Blue Line L to Forest Park which is the end of the L line and the start of the prairie path. You can take your bikes on the L anytime except 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM weekdays (e.g., you can get on at 3:55 PM even though it will after 4 PM when you arrive at your station).
A great option for a scenic ride along the lake is to ride Sherridan Rd up to Great Lakes Naval Station and back. Just take the CTA purple line to Davis, Foster, or Noyes get on Sheridan and head north.
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Old 03-22-15, 07:57 AM
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FYI for metra, you will need one or two bungie cords, a short strap or piece of rope, etc. to secure the bike. I have seen some conductors be very strict about having some sort of attachment, but one guy used his belt.

Bikes on Trains
The cord should reach the thin bar that runs underneath the seats. Also, no bikes on rush hour trains if during the week. The schedule on their site indicates the number of bikes allowed. Also buy your ticket in the station, not on the train, if at all possible (to avoid $3 surcharge if your boarding station had an open attendant).
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Old 03-22-15, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by black_box View Post
FYI for metra, you will need one or two bungie cords, a short strap or piece of rope, etc. to secure the bike. I have seen some conductors be very strict about having some sort of attachment, but one guy used his belt.

Bikes on Trains
The cord should reach the thin bar that runs underneath the seats. Also, no bikes on rush hour trains if during the week. The schedule on their site indicates the number of bikes allowed. Also buy your ticket in the station, not on the train, if at all possible (to avoid $3 surcharge if your boarding station had an open attendant).
I can't imagine navigating the bus or train system with my bike. Unfortunately, it's just something I'm not used to doing and I'm not a young person. Thank you for your suggestions.
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Old 03-22-15, 10:22 AM
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In that case I agree go south on the lake shore path. The northern half is a disaster during peak times and good weather.
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Old 03-22-15, 10:25 AM
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Another possibility is to head up Elston to the North Branch Trail and ride to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and back. That would be probably a metric century or so.
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Old 03-22-15, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by BikingGrad80 View Post
Another possibility is to head up Elston to the North Branch Trail and ride to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and back. That would be probably a metric century or so.
i would second that suggestion.
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Old 03-26-15, 08:11 AM
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Shona, May I also suggest renting a DIVVY bike? https://www.divvybikes.com/
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Old 03-26-15, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by 3bluebikes View Post
Shona, May I also suggest renting a DIVVY bike? https://www.divvybikes.com/
Thank you for the suggestion but they look pretty heavy. I wouldn't want to ride that bike 40-50 miles.
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Old 03-26-15, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by shona View Post
Thank you for the suggestion but they look pretty heavy. I wouldn't want to ride that bike 40-50 miles.
Divy bikes are not meant for long rides. Also isn't there a 30 minute time limit. The Chicago Botanic Gardens are 15 miles north of the Chicago city limits.
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Old 03-27-15, 07:32 AM
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Talk your other half into staying out in the burbs, and taking the train in from Aurora or Geneva. The Fox River Trail system is amazing, for as long or short as you want to go.
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Old 03-27-15, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by black_box View Post
FYI for metra, you will need one or two bungie cords, a short strap or piece of rope, etc. to secure the bike. I have seen some conductors be very strict about having some sort of attachment, but one guy used his belt.

Bikes on Trains
The cord should reach the thin bar that runs underneath the seats. Also, no bikes on rush hour trains if during the week. The schedule on their site indicates the number of bikes allowed. Also buy your ticket in the station, not on the train, if at all possible (to avoid $3 surcharge if your boarding station had an open attendant).
I had no idea about this requirement. I've taken my bike on the Metra and seen plenty of others do the same without strapping it and never saw any conductor care. I'm usually on the BNSF line so maybe the conductors on other lines enforce this. At any rate, thanks, it's good to know this is the rule.
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Old 03-27-15, 01:19 PM
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I've definitely been bugged/checked by conductors when bringing my bike on a Metra for straps, bungee cords, cable lock, rope, something to secure the bike to the rail at bottom of the folding chairs in the priority seating areas. Be sure to have something.
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