Saturday started off chilly but warmed to the point where riders would be stripping off jackets and long sleeve jerseys. It was a great day for biking judging by the number of cyclists who were out. I was up early for a clinic with the tri club on braking, shifting, and bike handling.
Drove to the bike shop, found a place to park on one of the neighborhood side streets, and ended up being one of the first ones to arrive. Some of us biked over and one woman from down the street in my suburb even took 2 buses. Triathlon bikes, road bikes, a cruiser...many of them with low miles from being so new...the clinic was aimed at newbies and is a part of my club's series of events geared towards those new to the sport with zero to maybe a few races under their belts. It was great to meet a couple of the shop's regular riders who were not-so-secretly hoping we were there for them.
The indoor part of the morning was interesting in that Adam, from the bike shop, explicitly wanted to cover the bases for someone brand new to riding and keep it informative for someone a bit more experienced. He struck a nice balance--checking your tire for glass and debris, how to pump up the tires, how to avoid cross chaining. For me, I learned something during his discussion on how to check and tighten the headset (so that's what's under my top cap!).
The next part of the morning was doing some city riding on a fairly busy street with a bike lane. About 4 miles--past the heavily guarded abortion clinic with privacy fencing and security force to check in patients and past the World Famous Superdawg Drive-in--and we'd made it to the start of the North Branch Trail. Once you get on it, you can ride via a network of paths to Wisconsin if you wished. The NBT itself officially ends at the Chicago Botanic Garden though.
We focused on the first section of the path that sweeps downhill from the parking lot to a field below. It gave us the opportunity to work on feathering the back brakes, cornering, and keeping the correct pedal high depending on the direction of the turn. At the bottom, we worked on changing to an easier gear at the right time before starting a climb, etc..
Several people elected to ride with Adam back to the store, but I went with a couple others farther north. I made it as far as Dempster where the path jogs and crosses railroad tracks before deciding to turn back. The others were going as far as Highland Park maybe. By this point, there were so many dog walkers, runners, and cyclists that I was glad to be done. I know people complain about the Lakefront Path with this being a quieter, calmer alternative...it was probably no worse than a busy Saturday morning on my normal route. But I tend to enjoy riding with nobody else around where it isn't crowded. I'm curious what it's like closer to 7am instead of 10am. Perhaps a trip back later in the summer? I had a pleasant ride back through the city--most of it downhill so I got some nice speed. Hadn't noticed the uphill when riding to the trail with the group.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience. It's definitely a younger crowd than the people who show up for the local bike club evening rides. I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there with everybody again for some longer miles. I probably would have gone longer, but wasn't dressed for warmer temps. It may finally be getting to be spring if I have to ditch the long sleeve jersey and think about arm warmers if it's cool. That's a sure sign summer is around the corner!