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Old 11-07-10, 07:04 PM   #1
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Plans for bike camping around Chicago/The Great Lakes

I know this is the bike touring thread, but I'm a 19 year old city boy in college that wants to tour, but would settle for bike camping, as described by Grant Peterson in this article. I'm wondering how realistic a trip come springtime would be. I only have one bike, a '76 Raleigh Grand Prix. Since I would only be out for two or three days, I figure my load would be 30 lbs at most. Would this bike to fit my purposes with a rack and some panniers or baskets, or do I have to wait until I can acquire a new bike?

Also, are there good sites for this sort of camping around Chicago? I think 60 miles is the farthest I'd be willing to go to begin, but I cannot find any good sites within 60 miles of here.
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Old 11-07-10, 07:22 PM   #2
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I live in Chicago. You could ride to Lake Geneva and back. That would make a nice two or three day trip. You would also be close enough to home to depend on the Metra trains or friends if you needed assistance.

Camping is available near the Chain-o-lakes between the towns of Fox Lake and Antioch.

The bike should be OK, the route is almost completely flat. If you travel in summer, you should travel as light as possible using front & rear racks.

If you want assistance with bike friendly routes, just PM me.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 11-07-10 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 11-07-10, 08:03 PM   #3
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Illinois Beach State Park up in Zion is nice, and probably about a 40-45 mile ride from downtown. Once you get on Metra, plenty of places to go within 50-60 miles of a Metra station. Metra to Joliet and then a ride down the I&M Canal Trail would be a pretty easy intro to bike camping, I think you can camp @ Channahon, Buffalo Cut Park, or down at Starved Rock. Also, it's a nice ride.
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Old 11-07-10, 08:18 PM   #4
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You should be fine on that bike for a 2-3 day trip. I would work fine for a longer trip. I used to use bikes similar to that one, 30 years ago to do week long tours.

I wouldn't get a new bike for this trip. If this is your first tour I would spend as little money on it as possible. Use waterproof compression bags or borrow panniers from some friends or even borrow a trailer. After the touring bug has bitten you then get the bike specific gear and a better bike.

Do get a rear rack since you can use that for more than just touring and buy gear that has multiple uses, like lightweight camping gear and cooking gear as needed.

BTW bike camping is touring.
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Old 11-07-10, 09:51 PM   #5
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Check out the Metra trains. On weekends and off peak hours during the week you can board with your bike.

Take the train to Fox Lake and ride up to Lake Geneva(Big Foot Beach State Park), or Kettle Moraine State Park. If you have a few days string a few parks together. New Glarus is nice(hilly though). Yellowstone Lake S.P. is another one.

Use Google maps and the bike route planner.
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