Viewing entries in

Love Thy Local Trail System

Love Thy Local Trail System

As a Chicago based team, mountain bike riding can be quite the challenge.  Our nearest trails are in Willow Springs at the Palos Forest Preserve.  Here's a fun fact, there are people that build and maintain them for our enjoyment!  They are CAMBr, the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers, and these volunteers giving their time and effort are the reason we have these trails to ride. 

So perhaps you ride regularly or were convinced to take your cx bike to give a it try a few times, in either case you know that when you go, you just park and ride.  No fee for parking or trail pass to purchase.  What a world!  Well here is our pitch:  support the work CAMBr is doing by becoming a member (basic is $35).  CLICK THIS LINK  

Trees fall and they clear em, berms created, and trails fixed (when those bad peeps ride them while wet and create terrible ruts).  In the last year alone, major developments on a new trail, Stonehouse, further connecting and extending the current system have taken place.  Check it out on this new map.   They also host training rides, kids days, plan trips to other trails systems, as well as host the Palos Meltdown race.  Side note: you can also throw in some muscle on work days, create those trails you ride!  

We all know those nights spent staring at the radar are just as filled with days riding.  So take a few minutes and a few dollars and become a member.  Increasing the numbers also shows the powers that be how important these trails are to the cycling community and that our numbers are large.  This helps fortify the case that bike trails are good and should not be nixed.

Thank you for joining.  We look forward to seeing you out there.  Just make sure to check the conditions first. 

Look at this fun stretch of Stonehouse.   How do think those rocks got there?  And look at this fallen tree on Turf, who is gonna clear it out? 

Look at this fun stretch of Stonehouse.   How do think those rocks got there?  And look at this fallen tree on Turf, who is gonna clear it out? 

3 Days, 3 Trails, 3 Words Each

A Memorial Day weekend ride report.

  • Alpine Valley - Elkhorn, WI
    • turns, chipmunks, climbing
  • John Muir, Kettle Moraine - Whitewater, WI
    • rocks, hikers, flying insects
  • Palos Forest Preserve - Willow Springs, IL
    • roots, two-way traffic, bbq's

Side notes:  Rode with several rad ladies, I'm always learning.  Copious amounts of ice cream enjoyed after each ride, as it should be.

~Erica C.


Skyway Classic Thursday Roundup

We made it to the last night!

Prelim results for the Thursday HERE.

Video by racer Jason Ward of the last Cat 5 race HERE.  Big thanks for him sharing and posting for all.

More stellar pics by the wonderful Ronit Bezalel HERE.

Omnium results and wrap up coming soon.



Skyway Classic Wednesday Roundup

Specialized brought some bikes for everyone to ogle at between their races.  Fat bikes (kind-a fitting for the rain) and women's road bikes.  Two ladies got to race super sweet steeds, what a treat!!!

Preliminary results can be found HERE.

The third video from Jason Ward of the Cat 5 race HERE.

Any pics feel free to tag as #skyway classic, #halfacrecycling

We made it through all the races and the constant rain with the rubber side down, phew!  One more night to go.

Skyway Classic Tuesday Roundup

Preliminary results HERE.  Please review and email with any questions, we've got gaps!  Results will be uploaded to USAC on Friday.

Get a glimpse of riding in the Cat 5 race #2 HERE, by rider Jason Ward.

A little worry with the weather, but racing took place to the fullest!

Skyway Classic Monday Roundup

Preliminary results HERE.  Please review and email with any questions.  Results will be uploaded to USAC on Friday.

Take a peek at some photos from night one HERE, from our teammie Soupy.

Also some pics HERE from the fabulous Ronit Bezalel.

Get a glimpse of riding in the Cat 5 race HERE, by rider Jason Ward.

An opening night thank you to all that came out to race, the officials, and sponsors. Three more nights to go!


The flowering hopes of the season...

The flowering hopes of the season...

It usually begins around the first week of January, as soon as driven legs have given their bodies and minds a minute to relax. For many, there has to be a focus or a plan. This is how they operate. This is how they are wired. For me, I'm good with the discipline of fitness and set to task on that promptly in the new year, but the mind tends to lag behind. Agendas are fluid to me and don't always need to be buttoned up. This is as much an asset as a detriment sometimes.

"What's your racing plan this year?" That's the golden question, the one we all ask each other in the cycling circles. It's the playbook for the season...which races, where we're training, when we're riding outside, yatta, yatta. It's a fantastic club to be a part of. You can feed off the energies of each other and that adds to the excitement of what's to come.

It's been tougher for me to sort out a plan this year. I checked boxes last year and want some newer experiences. I also want to push myself a little more in places, because I'm a type B and take my time getting serious about anything.

February came and went, still no real racing plan materializing. Then March rolled around and I was still very undeclared in my racing whims. I had some notions...ok, my racing spirit isn't broken...but loose, at best. I'm happy to report that I've "welded a framework" together, but it's been a process and feels strangely lugged.

I was in the Atlanta area this past week (work stuffs) and with the glorious sunny 70 degree weather, didn't miss my chance to get outside and hike some trails. And that's where it hit me! Subtly mixed in with the hardwood trees were some flowering trees with delicate purple buds busting open, dancing in the warm sunshine. A dead ringer for the trees that I would see around Hillsboro, IL.  Trees that were the ambassadors of Spring, an assurance that Winter was a thing of the past and a signal for cyclists to lose their trainer skewer.

Hillsboro-Roubaix was a road race in southwestern Illinois that kicked Spring into gear for many of us Chicagoans. A perfectly hilly course with a stiff turn up near the end leading into a full throttle churn over cobblestones (brick). It was a gem to all that raced it. Longer than our local crits, some elevation to remind you how flat Chicago is and an awkward prayer (sponsored by a church) to send us all off into battle...mental gold. The organizers announced last year that 2015 would be the last edition of HR. Participation was continuing to dwindle and, as such, they just couldn't afford to put on the race.  Most were in disbelief right up until the end, including myself.

I, personally, have unfinished business with Hillsboro. 2012: a hidden pothole lurking under muddy water sunk my battleship; 2013: couldn't attend; 2014: piled up from a fatigued rider near the final stampede; 2015: delayed start>poor nutrition>bonked hard 15 miles in. So, in that regard, the fact of this being no more leaves a gapping hole. And perhaps is the reason for my hardship in drafting a race plan. My mind is like a ship without a compass....

All things said, there are other sufferfests to pull me along. Gravel events have blown up in popularity and I suspect have contributed for the drop off in road races. I'll pause to confess my adoration for the rough roads. I don't want them to replace the longer smooth road events, but I'm only one registration slot. It's tough for established, older events to compete with the fun new shiny thing. As well, road racing is head-head competition and has its clear winners. Everyone wins in gravel because it's more racer against the terrain. Similar to triathlons, but let's avoid that snobbery....

In summary, I miss the blooms of Spring, full of promise and awakening. Change is ever present in life. My eyes and mind will need to look for new cues, but, amen, my memory of flowering trees and rolling hills is still vibrant....

~Jen Groen

K. Bean Takes Iowa RAGBRAI Edition


RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) was an amazing adventure.

We started off in Sioux City, Iowa and eventually landed in Davenport Iowa 520 miles/ 7 days later. Most days we rode approximately 70 miles. Being the over achiever, I also did the optional Gravel Loop for obvious reasons - it's gravel, super fun and yes, I did it on my skinny tires - and the optional Century loop (because I'm a miles junky).

Miles and miles of cornfields and roads.

Miles and miles of cornfields and roads.

There were some great hills, tough headwinds, storms, and heat. It was great. The riding was super varied every day. One day we encountered 4,000 ft. of climbing, and the next almost no elevation change. There were times when you could go fast and put in a good work out and other times where you just had to go with the flow. 

Bikes on bikes on bikes. 

Bikes on bikes on bikes. 

Riding with anywhere between 15,000 to 20,000 riders you are never alone. One of the best things was randomly hearing "HALF ACRE" as someone rode up behind me and that person talking to me about beer and the team. While on the ride, I ran in to many Chicagoan's, including a few SpiderMonkeys. The whole ride was full of food, beer (sometimes free!), crazy locals, and animals. An all around good time. If you've every thought about doing it you should! 

- Karen B. 

The fanciest of Iowan goats. 

The fanciest of Iowan goats.