This weekend I rode 185 miles with Out Our Front Door. Beforehand, I'd been doing a decent amount of training, but I'd never hit anywhere near this many miles over the course of 2 days.
We started the ride out by meeting at Buckingham Fountain early Saturday morning, doing some introductions, and getting a brief history lesson on the area. Throughout the ride, we managed to take a leg & water/bathroom break about every 15-17 miles. It definitely made the trip feel more feasible, knowing that we'd be riding for an hour to an hour and a half before our next history, geological, or cultural stop.
Day 1 was really hard with a headwind coming down hard on us from the north, but we pushed through it like champs. We entered Wisconsin and hooked a left through a back country road, where we met up with some very cute & friendly farm animals (definitely a personal high light of the trip). After a long & hard, but extremely fun & rewarding day of riding, we rolled into Chain O Lakes State Park and set up camp for the night. We ate our Jewel Osco dinners around the camp fire and let our bodies & minds rest before we hit the hay.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of wildlife that I would have never expected to hear so close to the city of Chicago. Nature's alarm clock. We rolled out of camp and headed to breakfast at KC's around 7:30.
Breakfast was AMAZING (& not expensive at all!!). And the breakfast spot was the perfect distance from camp to ride. It was a nice little wake up for our legs, but not so far that we got overly hungry. After the meal, we all felt really pumped for Day 2 of riding. The sun was shining, we were full of great food, and we knew we'd be riding with the wind. Everything was in our favor.
We spent most of the day on limestone rail-to-trail conversion paths, but we were blessed with a few long strips of paved asphalt that we just FLEW down. High light of the day was Sterns Woods in Crystal Lake. I felt like I was back in Colorado for that portion of the ride, and the hills gave a much anticipated ebb & flow challenge/reward feeling. It was awesome.
After a few more breaks, and a lot more miles, we spotted the sky line and new we were heading into the final stretch of the ride. 15 - 20 miles later, we rolled on through downtown and hit the Lake Front Trail. There really was no better way to end the ride than watching the sky line grow right before our eyes while cycling into it all. Awesome feeling.
Out Our Front Door is an awesome project, that I would recommend to anyone at all. If you've got a bike and are willing to test your mental limits, this is the ride for you. You'll learn all about the history & culture of the Chicagoland area, all the while making great conversation with great company & experiencing the area in a way most people just don't -- on a bike. Even if you don't have the "best" gear, or any gear at all, give it a go. You don't need all that stuff to be successful here, you just need yourself.
The only way to get lost is within your own sense of wonderment-
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Post by: Andrew St. Paul
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"To immerse , educate, preserve & advance the history, culture, trails and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area"