Wednesday, April 3, 2013

1st Long-ish Ride of 2013: Fox River Trail

March 31, 2013

14.47 miles, average speed 13.75 mph

On the first mid-50s day of 2013, I drove to downtown Aurora, parked just west of the casino and suited up. Equipment: Trek Madone 3.1 and a new Camelbak “Mule” backpack.

A representative sample of the Fox River Trail.
Mostly straight (there are a few surprisingly curvy fun bits!)
and paved. Good to excellent condition.

Good gravy it felt wonderful to get back on the bike outside. Grinding away on a trainer in the basement is, at best, adequate preparation for real cycling. It works most of the right muscles, but it doesn’t provide the sensory input -- the sights, the sounds, the smells, the decision-making -- of actual bicycling.

I dodged a few twitterpating geese and ducks as I settled in on the northbound paved trail on the west side of the Fox River. Familiar sights greeted me along the way: the looping arches of the I-88 bridge, the North Aurora Dam.

On the northbound east side of the river, look for a small sign that
says "Cave -->."  Walk down a few steps, say hello to the
old gent fishing for cats, and check out the actual cave.
It ain't Mammoth Cave, but what do you want for nothin', rubber biscuit?

I had a soda at the McDonald’s in Batavia. The Camelbak was fine, but the first tank of water tasted like plastic. I emptied the bladder and refilled it at the fast-food joint: much better. I headed back along the east side of the river. A steady supply of cool water, ever-ready via a tube on my shoulder, was very welcome. I investigated North Aurora Island Park, then headed back along the west side. All too soon, I arrived back at my car.

Decoration on the State Street Bridge over the
(you guessed it) Fox River.
The Camelbak is excellent -- or will be, once the water stops tasting like plastic. The backpack portion holds just the right amount of stuff: a long-shank U-lock, wallet, keys, sandwich.

Winter has not been kind to me: I was really tired after this short ride. Better start working on my stamina if I’m going to meet my goal of completing three 100-mile rides this summer!

15 miles down, about a thousand to go.