I rode a metric century today, on the Four Star Bike Tour. Interestingly, it was my first day of the season exceeding 100 km on bike. Quals prep really took a toll on my availability for biking! So, I figure that I should just make this a photo-journal instead of in words. Words will be used too, though, as context is sometimes required.
The day started at 04:50, to the Radetzky March as always. I prepped by finishing my packing, equipping my Northwestern jersey, bike shorts, and ensuring I had camera and other accoutrements. Toward Howard, I was a coward (NOT), and the L ride was quite annoying: they are doing single-tracking between Loyola and Sheridan, so we were stuck at Loyola for about 10 minutes waiting for signal clearance. ARGH! I got to UIC after a short ride from Roosevelt at around 06:40, and was shortly thereafter off on the adventure!
We started by going through the Chicago neighborhoods on the Near West and West Sides, including Heart of Chicago and Little Village. With red lights that I obeyed and stop signs that I only partially obeyed, it was a slow start to the ride, but seemed less problematic than the first time I did this ride, two years ago. Wide streets, old buildings, and more appeared, and I took my obligatory seatback profile photo.
Fittingly, the next city we entered was Cicero, Illinois, just after passing Cicero Road on 31st Street. The only part of Cicero that we saw was the part involving 31st Street. Nothing particularly stood out in this town, other than perhaps the road signs since I am somewhat obsessed with them.
In Berwyn, I definitely “got my kicks” as we got into the town! It followed a winding path around some of the neighborhoods with interesting houses and fun road names (e.g. Home Avenue). The scenic route is always more interesting, and of course, since I’ve become a shutterbug for aiding myself in remembering, I present some of them!
I reached the first rest stop in Riverside after having totaled about 30 km on my day thus far. Eating some of the food provided there, I also looked at the interesting architecture of the Riverside Metra station. (I will also be posting all of my photos on my Facebook page later). The route took a loop around the… riverside, and I ended up joining Cynthia and Stan in conversation and riding. She went at a slower pace than what I had been doing, but for a scenic ride, is there any reason to ride fast? NO! The ride continued through Riverside, Brookfield, and Lagrange, including an 86-car train that we had to wait for.
After a water/bathroom break at Veeck Park in Hinsdale, the ride continued on winding hills and peaceful neighborhoods, including along County Line Road, as I entered DuPage County for the first time ever on bike! That was pretty exciting! While riding, cutting my pace so as to not abandon Cynthia, we also chatted about the houses, architecture, and the Evanston Bike Club. Of course, small talk can go wherever you want it to. We were also hoping that the weather would cooperate, as clouds appeared on the horizon and seem to be bringing rain. We stayed dry… at least until the rest stop at Graue Park, where we saw a live mill! Here are the highlight pictures from this leg:
The second half of the ride had intermittent rain all the way. Thankfully, much of the first half was in wooded area of the forest preserve or shaded neighborhoods, so I didn’t get soaked. The tortuous path of the Salt Creek Trail was enjoyable with no hills like there were in the previous 20-ish kilometers, and it spit us out in Westchester, and other similar suburbs like Bellwood and Maywood. I have heard that they can be unsafe at times, but in a big group of cyclists, I do not fear for my safety from attackers. We went through quiet neighborhoods, but got soaked by rain! The business districts were quite pretty, but the roads were rough at times, and the rain burnt my eyes… though not as badly as if it were downpouring.
After the rest stop, I only got a few more pictures before my camera registered an error, as it is certainly not waterproof, so I’ll just use words to describe the rest of the trip. The home stretch was a bit of a stretch, as I really should have taken a KYBO opportunity when I was at the rest stop in Melrose Park. I was OK as we continued, but once we got into Oak Park and onto some REALLY BAD bumpy roads, my bladder was ready to explode. There were some mechanical problems that Cynthia had about 4 miles from the rest stop, but I had to press on and just wait for her and Stan at the rest stop, lest my bladder explode. I also continued to get soaked!
The rest of the ride was just as it was on the first Boulevard Lakefront Tour that I did, only this time I was sufficiently hydrated and didn’t run empty. Instead, I may have been overhydrated, as it was not a hot day! As we headed off from Garfield Park Conservatory, the rain REALLY came down, and I avoided a few close calls of wipeouts. We arrived unceremoniously back at UIC around 13:00, and I felt really happy for Cynthia, as completing a metric century was her “modified” goal for the summer. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!