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Bicycle Touring Boot Camp


If you ever thought about doing a camping and cycling trip, this is your chance. The cool thing about this trip is that it is very local, almost no traveling, and there is either Metra or suburban taxi backup on the whole route. Its a good chance to try out and shake out a bicycle touring trip before doing something more adventurous. The other cool thing is that it is almost entirely on bike paths so traffic considerations are minimal. A large portion of this suburban route travels through forest preserves and undeveloped areas. It is surprisingly scenic and secluded.

The Plan

The plan is to take the Illinois Prairie Path to the Great Western Trail to the Fox River Trail to Chain O'Lakes State Park near the Wisconsin border. I plan to start at the eastern trailhead of the Prairie Path at the Forest Park Blue Line stop at 8 AM. It is 68 miles from this point to the destination. That is not a terrible distance. It took me about 7 hours of saddle time to do this last time going slow.  However, to cut the mileage down for those who would prefer less miles, you can join us at a point of your choice along the way. The plan then is to stay at Chain O' Lakes State Park. I have four camp sites reseved and it should be pretty tame as school will not be out yet. However only 4 adults are allowed per campsite. So at this time the trip is limited to 16.  Then we will get up the next day to ride back.

I will post a more blown up version of the map in the file section. Everyone should print and take this. You are free to pick your own starting point for those who want to go less than the full distance. I think 40 miles is a good distance to get the full flavor. Figure 8 to 10 miles per hour.  The caveat will be the over night parking for vehicles. You are on your own to figure that out but I would recommend contacting the local police or sheriff for a recommendation. I will pass on any good spots that I hear of. In general I will cover about 10 miles per hour so you can figure at 10 AM, I will be at the 20 mile mark, etc. We will try and stay in contact on the trail via text message and cell phone

Equipment Notes

This is an unsupported trip. There is no support van. You need to supply your own bike, camping gear, food, and a means to carry it. If you have touring panniers and equipment, awesome. If not, almost any reliable bike can be attached to a bike trailer such as a Burley child trailer. Almost likely these can be rented and I will look around for a place to do that. I should point out, I don't think trailers are allowed on Metra but in worst case you can always lock up and come back later to get it (bring a lock). Also to save yourself some trouble its not a bad idea to get your bike checked out by a mechanic before you start. Bike fit is also important, especially for long distance riding. The bike should not be too large or too small for you. Although a day hiking size back pack is fine, I strongly discourage trying to ride your bike with a full size back pack. This is not safe as you will be top heavy and unstable. It is ergonomically terrible and you are very likely to get hurt doing this any amount of distance. Finally, I strongly recommend carrying a spare tube and patches for your tires. Flats happen.

Important

All attendees need to understand that while I and others in the group will look out for your well being, YOU are ultimately responsible for your own safety on my trips. Although much of this trip is off road, there will still be some instances of street riding and plenty of street crossings. Because this could be somewhat experimental for some, I also strongly encourage everyone to have a backup plan, i.e. being able to call a friend or family member to pick you up, a taxi service number in your cell phone (www.americantaxi.com), check the Metra website. This route is very accommodating for this. Alcohol is not allowed in Chain O'Lakes State Park. The camping fee is $30 per site, which we will split.

More Information

Here are a couple of good resources if you are interested in knowing more about touring.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php/47-Touring

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Important Update and Details

There is going to be three common starting points so that people can meet up if they want. Each starting point has different distance and travel time. However, you are welcome to start whereever you want. 

Forest Park Blue Line Station 7 hours, 70 miles. Will leave at 8 AM at the latest. Let me know if you plan to start from here so I don't leave without you.

Elgin. The casino parking lot 4 hours, 40 miles.The Forest Park group should arrive and  meet up with anyone else and leave 11:30 AMish.

Downtown Algonquin where the trail intersects Main St. 3 hours, 30 miles.Some of us may stop and rest here. Probably leave by 1:30 PM.

Overnight Parking

Forest Park

Let me know if you plan to park a car here as we will need to make arrangements for that.

Elgin

The Elgin Police have told me that we can park overnight in the casino parking lot.

Algonquin

The Algonquin Police have told me that overnight parking on public streets within the village is allowed. Avoid parking in front of a private residence. That is one reason we are meeting downtown.  Check local signage.

Route

The route maps are in the file section. You may want to take a look, especially from McHenry to Chain O Lakes State Park, which is road riding.

The Illinois Prairie Path starts at the western edge of the over flow parking lot west of the Forest Park CTA station. It then goes through the cemetery and across the Des Plaines River. The trail head is not marked well. I will then take the Prairie Path to Elmhurst where the Great Western Trail Branches off. Then the Great Western Trail until it merges with the Elgin Branch of the Prairie Path north of Wheaton. Then the Prairie Path north to where it connects with the Fox River Trail just south of Elgin. Then the Fox River trail north which becomes the Prairie Trail at Algonquin. Then the Prairie Trail to Ringwood Road in McHenery. From here it is road riding.  Take Ringwood Rd east to Solon Rd to Miller Rd to Wilmont Rd to Chain O Lake State Park Entrance.

I will email everyone through the Meetup Website my cell phone number if you need to text me on the trail and the camp sites that I have reservations for.

Otherwsie I am looking forward to it and am looking forward to seeing you all out on the trail.

Join or login to comment.

  • Chad G.

    Rob, I'm keeping the panniers. Great trip bro!

    June 9, 2014

  • Rob

    Thanks everyone for a great trip!

    June 9, 2014

  • James

    Thanks again!

    June 9, 2014

  • Mark

    Good trip sir!

    June 9, 2014

  • Kenneth K.

    Nice job Rob

    June 9, 2014

  • Jason

    Absolutely perfect weather!

    June 8, 2014

  • Mark

    Rob - Is there a link for the route map with turns?

    June 6, 2014

  • Sue

    I'm not going to be able to go. Sorry for the late notice to the group.

    June 6, 2014

  • Chad G.

    Are we going to stop somewhere for lunch and/or dinner or plan to eat on the trail?

    June 5, 2014

    • Rob

      I generally live off of gateraid and ice cream on the trail. I was going to eat dinner at the camp ground but stop at a store on the way.

      June 5, 2014

  • Chad G.

    More importantly, will we have access to a store close to the park or should we byob?

    June 5, 2014

    • Rob

      It would be BYOB but conceal and carry.

      June 5, 2014

  • Anna

    Sorry, guys but it looks like I will have some out of town visitors staying with me for the weekend and won't be able to join you anymore. Have fun!

    June 5, 2014

  • Joe

    Ugh, looks like I'll be getting a late start, need to help my brother move furniture into his new place during the day on Saturday. Hopefully I can have that wrapped up sometime early afternoon.

    June 3, 2014

  • Erica

    Apologies for such a late cancellation. This ride looks amazing, I am so sad.

    June 3, 2014

  • Kenneth K.

    I will be starting from Forest Park

    June 2, 2014

  • James

    I will be starting from Wheaton and intend to meet the group at Prince Crossing where the Great Western Trail merges with the IPP around 9:30ish.

    June 2, 2014

  • Chad G.

    I'm leaving from Forest Park.

    June 2, 2014

    • Mark

      Me as well

      June 2, 2014

  • Deborah S.

    Don't count me in on the sites, I'm not going to be able to stay overnight, but will try to meet up on Wheaton mile 0 to do some of the ride, depending on the time, if not this time, have fun!! Forgot I have a Tri the next day.

    June 1, 2014

  • Rob

    Please note that there is an update to the information above.

    June 1, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just found this group. The Bike tour looks great. Would like to see more in the future. Wish I could try this one out!

    May 29, 2014

  • Jim

    Nice idea..too bad I can't make it

    May 28, 2014

  • Erika

    I have to be back home by 2:00 on Sunday. Is anyone willing to help me shuttle my car up to the campground Friday evening or early Saturday morning so I can drive back on Sunday? My bike rack fits 2 bikes so I can take one more back home on Sunday if their schedule requires it too.

    May 1, 2014

  • Kimberly

    This incredible! Wish so much I could join you! I'll be sure to ride this on my own though. Great ride plan!

    April 27, 2014

  • nathan h.

    Hi Rob! I am planning a bike Trip in Michigan over that same weekend. But, wouldn't mind doing this route as a warm up. Could you share the map. In particular, the part that goes from FRT to Chain o Lakes?

    April 14, 2014

    • nathan h.

      Never mind... I found it. I am in Oak Park. Let me know if you are interested in doing in spring training rides.

      April 14, 2014

  • Ryan

    I'm also happy to see a bike touring trip, although I won't be able to make this trip. Keep them coming.

    February 17, 2014

    • Rob

      Very likely after this I will do another one in Wisconsin this summer, which would be a loop trip.

      February 18, 2014

  • Helen H

    Rob, Will it be ok with you to ride slower than 10 mph, with all the gear on tow?

    February 18, 2014

    • Rob

      Most certainly. There is alot of flexibility with this trip to start where you want and go your own pace. As more people sign up, we will try and get some other starting points so people can ride together.

      February 18, 2014

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