Sunday, September 30, 2007

Breaking Away on the Lake Shore Trail

It can take an hour to bicycle from Northwest Rogers Park to the South Loop. It takes 43 minutes on the Elevated Purple or 1.33 hours on the Subterrainian Red line going South from howard. Bicycling is healthier; the trail is buffered by enough green space to keep LSD from tripping you out. I have never felt threatened by traffic contrary to some commentators. I suppose that I should give it time, but there is not much traffic once you hit Devon and travel down Ridge depending upon your timing. It surprises me that so few commute by bicycle on a regular basis. If can't store your bike at the office or the street, then the city has a lock up, lockers(to rent) and showers at Millenium Park. If you can only go one way, take the bike on the subway home.

The route going south runs from Ridge to Devon, Devon to Winthrop Avenue, and Winthrop to Ardmore. Winthrop is the street where most Loyola students will be walking from their dorms to campus. If you are unmaried, then it is a bachelor or cougar paradise. You cycle one way Winthrop Street going south through Edgewater. On the way, you pass a grammar school. How threatening! Although there are some potholes, the bright yellow paint left by the Bike Federation makes it easy to spot the few pits on the trip south. Some you can ride over without much frustration.

Cycling and watching for Ardmore can be a challenge for some, but the green trail signs are visible. Once you turn east (left) on Ardmore, you are two to three blocks from the Lake Shore Trail. It is about a nine mile ride from Ardmore and Sheridan to Congress Pkwy. I usually make it to Columbus and Congress in about an hour unless I am taking snapshots along the way or stop for a water fountain or friend en route. I also ride straight south, rather than turning left at Lake Pointe Towers. Stay on the east side of the street or you will have to return to Lake Pointe. The trail continues south from the East side of the bridge.

The Trail is not as frustrating as it would seem. I have taken the ride without water, but keep a bottle in the backpack in case. In order to keep comfortable, I store a suit at the office and usually manage to avoid too much of a sweat to make a mess. The internal difference in my frame of mind is night and day.
I have even rode back as late as eleven in the evening after I got the urge. The globe lighting around Lawrence needs some bulb replacement or electrical work, but by the time that I had a chance to think about it, I hit a new set that was functional. There are some challenges on the trail with potholes, but they are marked. You return down Ardmore to Kenmore, which runs one way going North. Some may be intimidated around Sheridan, Broadway and Devon, but it really is not that difficult when you approach the street, traffic, and intersection with care. Of course, I never bike without a helmet.

To get out of the suit and into my shorts or sweats before leaving the office is a transition worth undertaking. I am not out to beat the clock, but I keep up with it and if it looks like I can't do it, then I make the trip home on another day leaving the bicycle at the office.

If you bought your bicycle at Roberts on Clark, then his staff is more than willing to blow up the tires and check out the bicycle. Robert may do it, anyway, but you may want to look at his supplies where you get a guilt trip after repeated trips. Usually, I avoid Clark, because it is much busier than Ridge.

My hope is that a bicycle trail suddenly appears on Ridge Boulevard and runs down Devon to Winthrop both east and west. Its time has come and Moore probably knows it, but Carol Ronen needs to allocate the funding in Springfield, as well. There are way too many cyclists coming from the north to cycle the Lake Shore Trail from Evanston and Wilmette. It is almost amusing seeing those from the suburbs heading south on something other than a car. I'd rather cycle on my own, than by proxy. I wonder how long it will take for someone to get the guts to start an RP cycling group for the morning commute?

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