Sunday, August 26, 2012

Four-Star Bike Tour

Enjoying the great boulevards of Chicago.
Drove into the city early this morning to put on a number and join a few thousand of my fellow cyclists for the Four-Star Bike Tour, which benefits the Active Transportation Alliance.

The imposing edifice of the Cook County
Criminal Courts Building -- "26th and Cal."
A really well-run ride, with lots of volunteers and plentiful refreshments at the rest stops. Too bad the weather threatened -- and later produced -- the first significant rainfall in more than a month.
Pilsen had dozens of huge murals like this one. Very cool.
The route started off south from the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, through the Little Village Italian enclave, the Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen, then west through Berwyn, Riverside and then north into Oak Park.

The first rest stop, in Riverside, 
The return leg passed through the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, where I grew up, Garfield Park and back to UIC. A pretty representative slice of Chicago's diversity. I make noises about wanting to live in Idaho or Tennessee or somewhere geographically interesting -- but I'd last about a month before the whitebread sameness would drive me nuts.

Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Oak Park.
The Garfield Park "fieldhouse" near the second rest stop.
I'd originally planned to ride the full 62 miles, which would have taken me out to Hinsdale (almost back home!). But between the forecast and the lowering cloud deck, I chickened out where the 62- and 35-mile routes diverged at the Riverside rest stop. I rode in the rain during last year's North Shore Century, and it was unpleasant. Taking the shorter route was a good decision; the rain started just as I was pulling into the start/finish area.

East on Taylor Street, nearing the end of the ride.
Had a delicious falafel sandwich courtesy of Goose Island brewery (it was only 10:30 a.m., so although the beer looked inviting, I didn't want to end up sleeping all afternoon).

I feel pretty good for having ridden 35 miles. I would describe the pace as "stately" (It is billed as a "tour") and there was a generous helping of red-light stops. Or maybe I'm just getting back in bicycling trim.

Here's the route, minus a mile or so after the second
rest stop, when I forgot to turn the Cyclemeter app
back on.

dsj 120826

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