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Looking for a trail in all the wrong places

I've really taken to cycling. So much that I'm finding myself needing reminders that I'm in training for a marathon and a little running is needed. At least Kelly should feel like her gift is being appreciated. I can't stop thinking about it. If I'm not actually out riding, I'm thinking about the next ride. Something about the freedom and the ground you can cover. I love it. I got the Chicago bike map (city, not region though) so I can find the best/safest routes. And we're a very bike-friendly city.

We have tons of bike lanes, protected bike lanes where bikes and cars are separated, bike trails through parks. There's the famous Lakefront Trail along Lake Michigan. But, sadly, I'm finding none of the off-road trails are very accessible to me. That's the reason I got the style of bike I did, afterall, was to cross over from street to trail. But two of the promising ones nearby haven't panned out. One is an awesome, awesome 31 mile paved trail that reaches all the way out to the Fox River. To get to it, however, requires the trail to get through some less than desirable vistas to reach a point where there are finally bridges and scenic riding. Until then, the path crosses a ton of neighborhood streets, comes out at urban intersections with heavy traffic, and lacks shade.

The second hope was a trail along a river just past the next suburb over. It's not much more than a single dirt track in the woods though. Which isn't quite what I'm after. Locally, my village has very quiet streets for a leisurely ride and a few with bike lanes, plus a bike plan being implemented over the next few years. I've taken to city riding to my surprise. It's fairly common here to see commuters, recreational riders, people out for exercise. I even got a few hello's this morning which is friendlier than normal. One of my new favorite rides is something called the Grand Illinois Trail, which is actually more of a planned bike route through much of the state. It would cover much more of the area--including to go downtown--if I wanted to follow it that far. To date, I've been sticking to the nearby towns where it passes mansions and parks and is on streets with little traffic and no parking.

My next adventures, however, I'm trying to get to more open rides. I have a few options if I can get to the North Branch Trail or the North Shore Channel Trail. Though my next longer ride, I think I'm going to head for the Lakefront Trail...which is nice because I have the option of coming or going via public transit. All our buses have bike racks on the front and bikes are allowed on the L almost anytime except for weekday rush hour.

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