cycling chicago in november
As promised, here is a slightly more in-depth report on my weekend cycling in Chicago…
First, the most obvious factor of cycling anywhere in the Midwest in November is the cold. It was even colder in Chicago than in my neck of the woods, so I was a little unprepared. (It would start somewhere in the 30s F in the morning and go up to mid or high 40s F in the afternoon). As I’ve noted before, this will be my first winter cycling so I am still learning how to dress for it as I go along. This weekend taught me that key body parts to keep warm are your hands, feet, and head. Dottie lent me a second pair of warmer gloves, I layered wool socks over my tights inside my boots, and I wedged a hat underneath my helmet. Keeping my toes and digits warm made a huge difference. My next purchase – a pair of snug earmuffs that can more easily fit under a helmet than a hat (good call, Dottie!)
When it comes to being outdoors, I abide by this mantra: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. (I saw this on a sticker once on a storefront in Colorado). So taking a cue from those wise wide words, I am layering and bundling up and looooving these cold days on my bike.
For more tips on this subject, check out Dottie’s ‘How To Dress for Winter Cycling‘ video from last winter!
One of the first things I noticed was the awesome community of cyclists Dottie and Greg are part of in Chicago. One our first night together, cycling friends of theirs joined us for the bike film Race Across the Sky (Hi, EA!). The next morning, fellow Dutch bike cyclist and friend of Dottie’s ran into us while we were stopped on the lakefront trail (Hi, Dan!). Later that day, Dottie was ‘celebrity sighted’ while we were waiting at a red light, and so the weekend went…
I was also sad to leave on Sunday morning before the Women Who Bike Brunch that Dottie and several of her cycling friends were attending still that day.
I guess that is one of the advantages of living in a bigger city; you are more likely to find like-minded people who share your enthusiasm for any given activity. I would love to be part of a committed cycling community and am now trying to think of which of my friends I could rope into a Bike to Brunch day (if I know you in person and you are reading this – beware!)
The Lakefront Trail
Much of my riding was on the lakefront trail. It was beautiful! The lakefront trail provides breathtaking views of the city, allows you to cover much mileage without the hassle of traffic and traffic lights, and offers the less experienced cyclist a safe and controlled environment in which to Chicago cycling a try. We took the lakefront trail to my conference hotel, to Navy Pier, and from the Goodman Theater to Dottie and Greg’s home. We left the trail and rode through city streets and neighborhoods as well, but if you are not someone familiar with Chicago (and are perhaps only there as a visitor like I was ), the trail appeared to be the most ‘user friendly’ cycling space. And, conveniently enough, there were rental bikes at Navy Pier, which is right on the lakefront trail. (But I can’t speak to the quality or cost of those…)
And while you’re at Navy Pier, make sure to ride the huge ferris wheel, check out the fun mirrors, and enjoy the city skyline in the background. Have fun and say hello to Chicago from me!
Other things I absolutely loved in Chicago: The Brauhaus German restaurant that made me feel like I could be in Munich again; the modern art wing at the Art Institute of Chicago; the best play ever at the Goodman Theater; amazing food and a delicious chocolate latte at Rick Bayless’ XOCO restaurant; and Dottie’s and Greg’s cats.