I’m currently living in the suburbs of Chicago so you wouldn’t think there would be much adventure on my doorstep. Well OK I’ll admit that most of the time the possibilities for cycling adventures are pretty limited. However sometimes things stack up and an adventure just happens out of nowhere.
The other weekend I awoke to glorious sunshine glistening off the few inches of snow which still lay on the ground. I looked out the window for a while and gazed, admiring ‘that thing in the sky’ (we don’t see the sun much back in the UK).
As I looked back in to my room I couldn’t help but notice my bike sitting patiently in the corner still wearing its big 3 inch studded snow tires from a previous ice biking trip. I decided it was fate and soon I was gearing up heading out in to the sub-zero sunshine for a ride in the snow.
Leaving from my hotel I tentatively crossed some icy sidewalks completely forgetting I had uber sharp studs in my tires so there was probably no need to be so careful. I then started satisfyingly crunching my way through a good few inches of frozen powder. It seemed the snowplow guys were on my side as they had left numerous piles of snow across the sidewalk which created great tricky icy obstacles to try and clear. I got some hilarious looks from passers-by as I (very) slowly trudged along one sidewalk where the snow had drifted to a good 6 inches.
When I got to my local parkland I was relieved to see the start of the bike trail had been inadvertently groomed by some snowmobiles. The conditions seemed to randomly changed from nice to horrific as I progressed along the trail. Lots of people were out on cross-country skis, I got pretty funny surprised looks from some of them. I even saw snow shoe prints on one part of the trail.
You have to take care to avoid the cross-country ski trails, those funny Lycra clad pain junkies get pretty pissed if you bugger them up!
Even though I was never more than half a mile from hustle and bustle of ‘the burbs’ you could have easily mistaken parts of the ride for back country wilderness.
After a while I started to get used to the slight reduction in traction and steering accuracy. It was pretty easy riding apart from a few random frozen ruts to spice things up a bit.
There is a reason this picture of my bike looks so cold and chilling…. it was bloody freezing!
My 47mm wide Schlick Cycles Northpaw rim up front helps add some float to the 3 inch tires by allowing lower pressures ideal for better traction on the slick stuff (or should that be Schlick stuff?).
Half way round I met some of the locals. I was able to get pretty close right? I think I might change professions to wildlife photographer.
So I did get pretty close to the locals but mainly because there is a fence round them so they are pretty tame.
As it’s was almost valentines day I though I would get the mummy Elk to kiss the little baby one so I could take a lovely photo, make it in to a card then make millions…..it kinda worked…..apart from the bit about making millions.
So obviously with a blog named ‘leave only tread marks’ the day wouldn’t have been complete without taking this photo
Taking lots of photos of Elk (and my bike), stopping to chat to skiers and turning the pedals in snow takes longer than you think and soon the sun was starting to set on an amazing mini adventure.
So I don’t quite know why this felt like more of an adventure than just a ride. Maybe it was the unusual conditions, the unusual sights or the thrill of staying out until it got dark. All I know is it was a bloody nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Chicagoland!