Chicago - August 2015

With not a lot of time to spare, this was a short trip - two nights in Chicago. I had seen an article about an elevated converted rail trail in the middle of the city, the Bloomingdale Trail. I had never heard of it, but I had actually biked pretty close to it several times, so I decided to ride it.

Maggie Daley Park is open and almost done - we were looking forward to trying the climbing wall for the first time, but that wasn't to be. The kid's playground is pretty cool, by far the best playground I've ever seen.

The Chicago Triathlon was held this weekend, and I saw a lot of bikes on Lakeshore Drive. It looked like a ton of fun, and I'd love to do the bike portion of it. I rode 50 miles the day before it, with lots of stops for taking pictures, so I did my own (though more relaxed) version of the bike portion. I watched the bikes from a hot tub the next day, recuperating in comfort and style!


The Bloomingdale Trail

This trail officially opened on June 6th, 2015, just a couple of months ago. It's on the NorthWest side of Chicago. I had read a number of reviews comparing it unfavorably to "The High Trail" in New York, but some said that since only(!) $90 Million was spent on Chicago's version, compared to over $300 Million for New York's, that it turned out pretty well.

I liked it, but like any rail trail, it's a somewhat uninteresting ride for a mountain biker. In terms of seeing more of the city that I wouldn't see from a bike lane, and being way safer, it was fun. Take a look at the video I took, below the picture to the left. A lot of the reviews mentioned how close the trail is to the expensive condos, but I only saw a few spots where it looked like you could really look into somebody's living room. The blue stripes on the sides of the trail are rubberized for runners.

I doubt I'll ride it again, but maybe in a few years when I've been away from it for a while, I'll head over there for another ride. It looks like it's not quite finished, they rushed to open it on June 6th, a number matching what they are also calling an initiative that includes this trail, "The 606". The number relates to the zip codes in the area, and "The 606" includes more than just this trail. It also includes four neighborhood parks. Check for more details.

Maggie Daley Park Climbing Wall

Even though I've only climbed indoors, and only a handful of times, I was really looking forward to Christina and I getting to climb on this spectacular outdoor climbing wall. Unfortunately, when we got down there we were disappointed that I wouldn't be allowed to climb without somebody 18 or over to spot me (moving pads)! We could have had Christina climb on her own, with me spotting her, but we would have had to pay the climbing rate for both of us, and we both would have had to take their certification course despite both of us having climbed on such walls before. I was really disappointed and decided that we should just leave and go visit the kid's playground instead.

We watched some people climbing, and they said it was okay to film them climbing, so that's what the video is, below the picture to the left. Not us, but we wish we could have been doing that! Well, bouldering, anyway ...

Maggie Daley Park Kid's Playground

This was really cool, I wish I had had a place like this to play when I was a kid! It's really well done, and seems to be getting a lot of visitors, from all over.

In the row below, on the left, you can see a connecting path of logs, which they call the "Enchanted Forest". It's fun, kind of like my mountain bike stunts, but for walking ... and very low-risk since it's built for little kids to be able to use it. There are some water features as well, for kids to run around in.

North Branch Trail - improvised stunt ride

On the right-hand side of the collage at the top of this page, you can see a nice stone arched bridge. I saw this bridge along the North Branch Trail, a paved bike path, and it looked like the railings could be ridden. I walked it first, and it seemed fine, but the big drop-off to the right side was pretty concerning. I rolled up to it on my bike to see what that felt like, and ended up riding over it without any problem at all. I was sticking pretty close to the left edge, though, so that if I went off the side, it would be the 2-foot drop and not the 9-foot drop into the shallow water (and rocks)! That worked so well that I set up the camera and filmed another ride over it. Unfortunately, the camera angle isn't that great, because there were not very many spots to set the camera down in a stable manner.