Riding in and around Chicago?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Matthew Reed, May 1, 2003.

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  1. Matthew Reed

    Matthew Reed Guest

    I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride up a
    hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there better single
    track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is there anywhere near here to backpack?
    Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I have to go to get some quality outdoor time?
     
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  2. Matt J

    Matt J Guest

    "Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>...
    > I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride up
    > a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there better single
    > track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is there anywhere near here to
    > backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I have to go to get some quality outdoor time?

    Heh.. Nothing like out where you're from. I'm in a northern suburb, and the steepest (paved) hill
    I've encountered is at Sheridan and Tower roads in Winnetka. (Maybe 20 miles north of downtown? Not
    sure.) There are often a lot of riders along that stretch of Sheridan (from Evanston up through
    Highland Park). The best mountain biking is in Kettle Moraine (in Wisconsin) or Palos Hills (SW of
    the city, IIRC). If you go north into northern Illinois/Wisconsin, you can go to Devil's lake state
    park for MTBing and climbing, backpacking too I suppose though it'll seem dull. Look around for a
    state park map, I'll bet you could find one on the internet somewhere. Quality outdoor time,
    however, is right out the door; different, perhaps, but outdoors nonetheless. Matt
     
  3. Dave W.

    Dave W. Guest

    The Chicago Bicycle Federation (CBF) publishes a great map of the area. Several counties are
    highlighted with color-coded routes and streets that are geared (pun) especially for the cyclist.

    It was assembled with the input from many area cycling clubs which adopted their local area (of the
    map) and suggested relatively safe roads. In addition, paved and crushed limestone trails are also
    included. This map is about $7 and should be found at most area bicycle stores, or
    http://www.chibikefed.org

    If you get out to the 'burbs, check out the Illinois Prairie Path, which is a 61-mile crushed
    limestone system. It connects to other DuPage and Kane County trails, including the excellent Fox
    River Trail. http://www.ipp.org These are not "horse trails" as you suggest. We get over a thousand
    users per day on the IPP.

    Hills. Hmmmmmmm. Not much of them around Illinois. Perhaps Palos Hills area. Some there. A series of
    rollers in Kane County west of St. Charles. Check out the vicinity of Campton Hills Road and Town
    Hall Road. That's where we go. Nothing mountainous, but will get the red blood cells flowing if you
    route properly.

    Can't help you much with the backpacking. Perhaps the state park around Starved Rock? Not difficult,
    but pretty area (forest, river, waterfalls).

    Single track you say? Just north in lower central Wisconsin, is a place called Kettle-Morraine.
    Better stores will have maps of that. There is a parking fee (about $7 last time I was there), but
    well worth the 50-75 minute drive. Bring friends to share the fee. There's a north and a south
    section, with different difficulty levels found on a proper color-coded map. Search in Google, and
    you'll find the official site for that. Really neat country bike/general/soda store there just
    outside the park (I hope its still there!).

    - Dave W.

    >
    >"Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>... I recently moved to Chicago from the
    >Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor options. I am trying to stay positive,
    >but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride up a hill or down a twisty road will get a
    >lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there better single track than the horse paths west of town?
    >While I am at it, is there anywhere near here to backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I
    >have to go to get some quality outdoor time?
     
  4. Urbancyclist

    Urbancyclist Guest

    I've ridden around a lot of parts of Chicago. The steepest long climb I've come across is Finley
    Rd. in Downers Grove, IL near the I-88 tollway. I think that was the only time I've actually
    needed a granny.

    http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?country=US&addtohistory=&address=&city=downers+grove&state=IL&-
    zipcode=&homesubmit=Get+Map

    There is also a paved bike path that goes north of Crystal Lake which features some very steep short
    climbs. When I moved from Maryland in 1989, I also noticed that people seemed to less inclined to
    fitness. For example, the outdoor swimming season was much shorter. The lakefront bike path is real
    good and you can race people regularly and since its on the lake there are few stops especially on
    the south side. Winter icebiking has no ice problems (only salt), so its no problem to ride through
    the whole winter if you're so inclined. Twisty road? Ha Ha. You'll have to get out of the city. The
    Fox River Trail is pretty good. I am a road cyclist. The off-road options are obviously limited if
    you're actually in the city. You could ask people on the email list...

    Bike-Chicago Email List: http://home.mindspring.com/~bvonmoss/bikechicago.html

    On 1 May 2003 20:33:28 -0700, [email protected] (Matt J) wrote:

    >"Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>...
    >> I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    >> options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride
    >> up a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there better
    >> single track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is there anywhere near here to
    >> backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I have to go to get some quality outdoor time?
    >
    >Heh.. Nothing like out where you're from. I'm in a northern suburb, and the steepest (paved) hill
    >I've encountered is at Sheridan and Tower roads in Winnetka. (Maybe 20 miles north of downtown? Not
    >sure.) There are often a lot of riders along that stretch of Sheridan (from Evanston up through
    >Highland Park). The best mountain biking is in Kettle Moraine (in Wisconsin) or Palos Hills (SW of
    >the city, IIRC). If you go north into northern Illinois/Wisconsin, you can go to Devil's lake state
    >park for MTBing and climbing, backpacking too I suppose though it'll seem dull. Look around for a
    >state park map, I'll bet you could find one on the internet somewhere. Quality outdoor time,
    >however, is right out the door; different, perhaps, but outdoors nonetheless. Matt
     
  5. The answers to those questions are generally either no or too far. You should have asked yourself
    these things before you agreed to give up so much for a higher-paying job. You could get a Sea Kayak
    and have plenty of space to paddle on the lake. Or how about an Aqua-Cycle? Spend some time at the
    Museum of Science and Industry and take your mind off the mountains.

    Steve McDonald
     
  6. John Everett

    John Everett Guest

    On Thu, 01 May 2003 20:38:34 GMT, "Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    >options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride up
    >a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there better single
    >track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is there anywhere near here to backpack?
    >Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I have to go to get some quality outdoor time?

    We go to Colorado. Already have our reservations in Frisco for this summer.

    As another poster in this thread mentioned, Campton Hills Road and Town Hall Road west of St.
    Charles, and Johnson's Mound (a couple of miles south of there) provide poor substitutes; but that's
    where we train for our Rocky Mountain trips. There's also the Kankakee Bluffs, south of Minooka.

    The closest you'll find real hills is in Wisconsin, but don't expect anything to rival the Mountain
    West. If you want to work hard head out today in a generally northerly direction. The wind is the
    midwest's equivalent of hills. :-(

    John Everett - Aurora, Illinois

    jeverett3<AT>earthlink<DOT>net http://home.earthlink.net/~jeverett3
     
  7. Matthew Reed

    Matthew Reed Guest

    Steve, I would have never left the West for money, the US treasury has yet to print enough. I did it
    for a woman. It is temporary, I have to be here for two more years, then I am making a vapor trail
    back to Colorado. The sea Kayak thing sounds interesting, any advice on how to get started? I tried
    the museums out and found the Art Institute to be pretty amazing.

    Matt [email protected] "Steve McDonald" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > The answers to those questions are generally either no or too far. You should have asked
    > yourself these things before you agreed to give up so much for a higher-paying job. You could
    > get a Sea Kayak and have plenty of space to paddle on the lake. Or how about an Aqua-Cycle?
    > Spend some time at the Museum of Science and Industry and take your mind off the mountains.
    >
    > Steve McDonald
     
  8. Matthew Reed

    Matthew Reed Guest

    John, If you have the chance while you are in Frisco, go for Monarch Crest trail. It is freakin
    great. You get to ride hard packed fast single track, rock technical stuff, scree runs, water
    crossings, grassy meadows and thick forrest all in one day. A lot of the ride is over 13,000 feet so
    the views are unbelievable. I am heading back to ride it in August, and can not wait.

    I have noticed that wind here does do a nice job of hill simulation.

    Matt "John Everett" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Thu, 01 May 2003 20:38:34 GMT, "Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > >I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > >options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride
    > >up a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there
    better
    > >single track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is
    there
    > >anywhere near here to backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I
    have
    > >to go to get some quality outdoor time?
    >
    > We go to Colorado. Already have our reservations in Frisco for this summer.
    >
    > As another poster in this thread mentioned, Campton Hills Road and Town Hall Road west of St.
    > Charles, and Johnson's Mound (a couple of miles south of there) provide poor substitutes; but
    > that's where we train for our Rocky Mountain trips. There's also the Kankakee Bluffs, south of
    > Minooka.
    >
    > The closest you'll find real hills is in Wisconsin, but don't expect anything to rival the
    > Mountain West. If you want to work hard head out today in a generally northerly direction. The
    > wind is the midwest's equivalent of hills. :-(
    >
    > John Everett - Aurora, Illinois
    >
    >
    > jeverett3<AT>earthlink<DOT>net http://home.earthlink.net/~jeverett3
     
  9. Matthew Reed

    Matthew Reed Guest

    Dave, How smooth are the limestone paths? Would a road bike work, or maybe a road bike with a little
    larger tires? Thanks for the tips. Matt. "Dave W." <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > The Chicago Bicycle Federation (CBF) publishes a great map of the area. Several counties are
    > highlighted with color-coded routes and streets that are geared (pun) especially for the cyclist.
    >
    > It was assembled with the input from many area cycling clubs which adopted their local area (of
    > the map) and suggested relatively safe roads. In addition, paved and crushed limestone trails are
    > also included. This map is about $7 and should be found at most area bicycle stores, or
    > http://www.chibikefed.org
    >
    > If you get out to the 'burbs, check out the Illinois Prairie Path, which is a 61-mile crushed
    > limestone system. It connects to other DuPage and Kane County trails, including the excellent Fox
    > River Trail. http://www.ipp.org These are not "horse trails" as you suggest. We get over a
    > thousand users per day on the IPP.
    >
    > Hills. Hmmmmmmm. Not much of them around Illinois. Perhaps Palos Hills area. Some there. A series
    > of rollers in Kane County west of St. Charles. Check out the vicinity of Campton Hills Road and
    > Town Hall Road. That's where we go. Nothing mountainous, but will get the red blood cells flowing
    > if you route properly.
    >
    > Can't help you much with the backpacking. Perhaps the state park around Starved Rock? Not
    > difficult, but pretty area (forest, river, waterfalls).
    >
    > Single track you say? Just north in lower central Wisconsin, is a place called Kettle-Morraine.
    > Better stores will have maps of that. There is a parking fee (about $7 last time I was there), but
    > well worth the 50-75 minute drive. Bring friends to share the fee. There's a north and a south
    > section, with different difficulty levels found on a proper color-coded map. Search in Google, and
    > you'll find the official site for that. Really neat country bike/general/soda store there just
    > outside the park (I hope its still there!).
    >
    > - Dave W.
    >
    > >
    > >"Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>...
    > > I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > > options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride
    > > up a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there
    better
    > > single track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is
    there
    > > anywhere near here to backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I
    have
    > > to go to get some quality outdoor time?
     
  10. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "Dave W." <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > The Chicago Bicycle Federation (CBF) publishes a great map of the area. Several counties are
    > highlighted with color-coded routes and streets that are geared (pun) especially for the cyclist.
    >
    > It was assembled with the input from many area cycling clubs which adopted their local area (of
    > the map) and suggested relatively safe roads. In addition, paved and crushed limestone trails are
    > also included. This map is about $7 and should be found at most area bicycle stores, or
    > http://www.chibikefed.org

    Good suggestion.

    >
    > If you get out to the 'burbs, check out the Illinois Prairie Path, which is a 61-mile crushed
    > limestone system. It connects to other DuPage and Kane County trails, including the excellent Fox
    > River Trail. http://www.ipp.org These are not "horse trails" as you suggest. We get over a
    > thousand users per day on the IPP.

    Not at all what the OP wants (as in the OP) and, yes, they are horse trails in a sense, and that's
    just what he meant. The last time I rode the NW section from Wheaton it was as bad as riding
    continuous rumble strips from all the pocks that horses left in the soft limestone surface.

    > Hills. Hmmmmmmm. Not much of them around Illinois. Perhaps Palos Hills area. Some there. A series
    > of rollers in Kane County west of St. Charles. Check out the vicinity of Campton Hills Road and
    > Town Hall Road. That's where we go. Nothing mountainous, but will get the red blood cells flowing
    > if you route properly.

    For hills, it's NW Illinois/SW Wisconsin or bust.

    > Can't help you much with the backpacking. Perhaps the state park around Starved Rock? Not
    > difficult, but pretty area (forest, river, waterfalls).
    >
    > Single track you say? Just north in lower central Wisconsin, is a place called Kettle-Morraine.
    > Better stores will have maps of that. There is a parking fee (about $7 last time I was there), but
    > well worth the 50-75 minute drive. Bring friends to share the fee. There's a north and a south
    > section, with different difficulty levels found on a proper color-coded map. Search in Google, and
    > you'll find the official site for that. Really neat country bike/general/soda store there just
    > outside the park (I hope its still there!).
    >
    > - Dave W.
    >
    > >
    > >"Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>...
    > > I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > > options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride
    > > up a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there
    better
    > > single track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is
    there
    > > anywhere near here to backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I
    have
    > > to go to get some quality outdoor time?

    --
    Robin Hubert <[email protected]
     
  11. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "UrbanCyclist" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I've ridden around a lot of parts of Chicago. The steepest long climb I've come across is Finley
    > Rd. in Downers Grove, IL near the I-88 tollway. I think that was the only time I've actually
    > needed a granny.
    >
    >
    http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?country=US&addtohistory=&address=&city=
    downers+grove&state=IL&zipcode=&homesubmit=Get+Map

    You need a granny for that climb? I do it in the big ring on a good day.

    > There is also a paved bike path that goes north of Crystal Lake which features some very steep
    > short climbs. When I moved from Maryland in 1989, I also noticed that people seemed to less
    > inclined to fitness. For example, the outdoor swimming season was much shorter. The lakefront bike
    > path is real good and you can race people regularly and since its on the lake there are few stops
    > especially on the south side. Winter icebiking has no ice problems (only salt), so its no problem
    > to ride through the whole winter if you're so inclined. Twisty road? Ha Ha. You'll have to get out
    > of the city. The Fox River Trail is pretty good. I am a road cyclist. The off-road options are
    > obviously limited if you're actually in the city. You could ask people on the email list...
    >
    > Bike-Chicago Email List: http://home.mindspring.com/~bvonmoss/bikechicago.html
    >
    > On 1 May 2003 20:33:28 -0700, [email protected] (Matt J) wrote:
    >
    > >"Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>...
    > >> I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > >> options. I am trying to stay positive, but
    I
    > >> need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride up a hill or down a twisty road will get a
    > >> lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there
    better
    > >> single track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is
    there
    > >> anywhere near here to backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I
    have
    > >> to go to get some quality outdoor time?
    > >
    > >Heh.. Nothing like out where you're from. I'm in a northern suburb, and the steepest (paved) hill
    > >I've encountered is at Sheridan and Tower roads in Winnetka. (Maybe 20 miles north of downtown?
    > >Not sure.) There are often a lot of riders along that stretch of Sheridan (from Evanston up
    > >through Highland Park). The best mountain biking is in Kettle Moraine (in Wisconsin) or Palos
    > >Hills (SW of the city, IIRC). If you go north into northern Illinois/Wisconsin, you can go to
    > >Devil's lake state park for MTBing and climbing, backpacking too I suppose though it'll seem
    > >dull. Look around for a state park map, I'll bet you could find one on the internet somewhere.
    > >Quality outdoor time, however, is right out the door; different, perhaps, but outdoors
    > >nonetheless. Matt
    >

    --
    Robin Hubert <[email protected]
     
  12. Mike Kruger

    Mike Kruger Guest

    "Matt J" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "Matthew Reed" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<eBfsa.6222$%[email protected]>...
    > > I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > > options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride
    > > up a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there
    better
    > > single track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is
    there
    > > anywhere near here to backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I
    have
    > > to go to get some quality outdoor time?
    >
    > Heh.. Nothing like out where you're from. I'm in a northern suburb, and the steepest (paved) hill
    > I've encountered is at Sheridan and Tower roads in Winnetka. (Maybe 20 miles north of downtown?
    > Not sure.)

    Ah, but there's a trick to this route. Every time you pass a park, you go down the hill/ravine to
    the lake, then climb back up. Short, but steep.

    There's a group of riders, mostly from the Evanston Bicycle Club, who do a
    "show and go" on Saturdays at 7am usually on this route, if anyone would
    like some company. It leaves from Starbucks at Plaza del Lago (Sheridan Rd
    and 10th, Wilmette). More information at http://www.evanstonbikeclub.org/
     
  13. Russ Price

    Russ Price Guest

    Matthew Reed <[email protected]> wrote:
    > I recently moved to Chicago from the Mountain West and I am severely depressed about my outdoor
    > options. I am trying to stay positive, but I need help. Anyone who can tell me where I can ride up
    > a hill or down a twisty road will get a lot of appreciation from me. Also, is there better single
    > track than the horse paths west of town? While I am at it, is there anywhere near here to
    > backpack? Any wilderness areas etc? How far do I have to go to get some quality outdoor time?

    Hills? What are those? :eek:)

    Seriously, though, there are some hilly areas in the Frankfort/Mokena/New Lenox area, in the Hickory
    Creek forest preserves. There are paved paths that have some (for the area) good hilly sections;
    these connect to the Old Plank Road Trail, plus a trail along US 30 in Frankfort, and a trail along
    LaPorte Road in Mokena.

    Also, there are bluffs along the Des Plaines River valley, especially from the Palos area down
    to Joliet.

    The Fox River valley has some nice bike paths, with a few hilly sections. It's possible to ride from
    Oswego to the Wisconsin border using this trail system.

    Along the Illinois River, the bluffs continue, and there are nice hiking areas at Starved Rock State
    Park near Utica, and also at Mathiessen State Park nearby. More hiking areas are available at
    Kankakee River State Park, along with a nice bike path, mostly paved.

    East of Ottawa, south of the river, there's a road biker's dream descent, on Gentleman-Trumbo Road,
    heading east. This is part of the route used on the Bike Psychos Century, and it's also where I've
    reached my personal speed record (44 MPH).

    Other options are to head over to the dunelands of southwest Michigan/northern Indiana, or to go to
    northwest Illinois/southwest Wisconsin.

    Western Illinois, between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, has a lot of nice rolling hills.

    Still, compared to real mountains, there's nothing more than a pimple around here. :eek:)
    --
    Russ Price * [email protected] * kill the wabbit to email

    "Rock journalism is people who can't write, writing for people who can't read about people who can't
    play." - Frank Zappa
     
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