Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bikes and Trails

Way back around the middle of March we experienced an awesomely epic heat wave, the likes of which no weather forecaster or record book around here had ever seen. For 10 straight days we had highs in the 80s! In March! We were shattering record high temperatures every day, to the point that it became old news. Another day. Another record high. We even tied the record for most consecutive days of breaking record highs!

In the middle of this epic awesomeness, Wendy and I bought new bikes. And they’re awesome.

This spring, not one, but two new bike stores opened up near our house. So I went to both and did some test riding. I found one I liked, then brought Wendy along to give the women’s version a test ride. Her first comment was “Oh, this is nice. I like it!”. That sealed the deal. The winning bikes were Giant Sedonas from Epic Cycle and Fitness. They’re comfort bikes, so they’ve got the upright riding style of mountain bikes, along with suspensions for the front wheel and seat post.

The very next day we went to the Prairie Trail and rode our bikes to Wisconsin. The Prairie Trail is a 26-mile bike trail that runs from the city of Algonquin (which is well south of us) all the way to Wisconsin. We live just a few minutes from the midpoint of the trail.

Blue is the Prairie Trail. Red is the Hebron Trail.
Green is a connecting trail.

It’s certainly fun and impressive to say we rode our bikes to Wisconsin, but the truth is on this particular day, since it was our first major ride, we started in Glacial Park which is only 5 miles from the border. So to Wisconsin and back was just about 11 miles. Not the longest ride (last year my longest was 30 miles), but still an impressive feat for a couple of amateurs on their first ride of the season.

Reaching the northern end of the Prairie Trail is always fun. The trail dumps you out into a cul-de-sac in a small neighborhood in Lake Genoa, WI. It’s almost like you wind up in someone’s back yard. There is at least a small park with a bench and a playground nearby. It’s a good place to stop for a rest.

The end of the trail runs between two houses
and stops in a cul-de-sac.

And as further proof you’ve entered Wisconsin, one of the houses in the cul-de-sac has a Packers helmet for a mailbox:

Click to embiggen

Since that first trip, we’ve tried to do a weekend ride whenever the weather allows. The Prairie Trail is always our first choice because of its proximity. We’ve explored the majority of it, but have yet to ride the southern third. There are several connecting trails, too. We rode the Hebron Trail one weekend, which is a 5 mile path connecting to the Prairie Trail just before Wisconsin.  And I’ve since discovered many, many more trails in northern Illinois (and southern Wisconsin) that we’re hoping to ride someday, too.

I always track our rides on my Android phone using My Tracks. After one month of bike riding, we’d ridden 100 miles. We’re currently at 110 miles -- our rides lately have been less frequent because the past few weekends were either cold or rainy, or both.

Yes, cold and rainy. The epic heat wave is now a distant (but blissful) memory. We were fortunate, at least, to have a gradual return to normal temps. There was no jarring 40 degree temperature drop. Just 70s, 60s, 50s, then 40s. An interesting footnote to the heat wave is that for only the second time ever, March was actually warmer on average than April.

Now that May is here, temperatures are steadily creeping back up. Next week’s forecast calls for sunny and clear skies in the 70s. So hopefully we’ll get back into our regular weekend rides.

1 comment:

TheNexus said...

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thank you :)